Judaism is for the living, I often teach. Life trumps ritual when endangered. We attend weddings over funerals, and we have excellent processes for making our way back to life after tragedies.
But, remembering our dearly departed has its place, and its importance, in our tradition. Those we love who have died remain with us as we forge ahead with life. The reality of those empty seats around the holiday table, even though their presence seems to fill our hearts, is sometimes too much bear.
At these special times, we gather together in the warmth of community to remember them. We observe Yizkor (remembrance) four times a year: Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot. At these designated points in our holiday service, we invite our loved ones of past into our hearts of present. We pray on their behalf, and we pray on our own behalf. And when we do so, we open ourselves up for the possibility that blessing and comfort might find their way back into our lives.
Traditionally Yizkor is sacid for a deceased member of the immediate family— a sibling, a parent, a child, be it during the first year of mourning or fifty years later. But we also say yizkor for other loved ones, for members of our community who have passed, and for Jews of all time who died for their beliefs and their people.
Please join us this Friday morning for Pesach services and Yizkor, either because you yourself are in need of comfort, or because you can be there for others. Perhaps both.
Seventh Day Pesach services are at 10:30 am this Friday April 10 at Temple Emanu-El, followed a potluck dairy lunch.