Jewish tradition, in its wisdom, teaches us that between the world of the living and the world of the dead there is a window and not a wall.  Unfortunately, our culture of scientific materialism teaches that dead is dead, and after death, the channels of communication between us and our loved ones who have died are forever ended – a brick wall!  But, like the rituals of Shiva, Kaddish, and Yahrzeit, Yizkor opens windows to the unseen worlds of the dead.  Yizkor creates a sacred space and time wherein we can open our hearts and minds to the possibility of a genuine inter-connection with beloved family members and friends who have left behind the world of the living. Yizkor is a window.  Prepare to open that window…
As you recite Yizkor prayers let your senses and imagination serve as the vehicle of inter-connection.  For whom are you saying Yizkor today?  Can you imagine that person’s face before your eyes?  See their smile, visualize how they might be carrying their body standing next to you.  Do you recall the sound of their voice?  Hear their words as you stand in prayer. Feel their presence right in this moment.  In your mind, in your heart, allow a conversation between the two of you to unfold.  What needs to be communicated this year?  What’s the message you need to hear today? What are the silent prayers of the heart? What remains unspoken?  Speak. Listen. Take your time. There is no reason to hurry.  This is a timeless moment.  Let all the radiance of their love to be with you right now.

Adapted from: “Meditation for Yizkor” by Simcha Paull Raphael in Kol Haneshamah: Yamim Noraim, Wyncote, Pa.: Reconstructionist Press.

In the crisp autumn air
I went to say
Yizkor prayers today
One of those holy days
Four times a year
We gather in community
Mourners threaded byyahrtzeit
Memories of heart and mind
A direct line
To loved ones
In the world beyond.
Four times a year
Ever since the Crusades
When mega-death
Demanded memorialization
Jews have said Yizkor
To honor, remember, elevate
Souls of dead loved ones.
It was fascinating
As I looked around the room
The synagogue was packed
Death, after all is said and done
Is a popular attraction
Yet to my surprise
Through the vision of my eyes
There was hardly
An adult in the room
Those saying Yizkor for parents
I saw on their faces
Pain and love
Of little boys and girls
Lost, lonely
Crying for mommys and daddys
Those remembering dead brothers and sisters
They too were pained children
A little brother
Reaching for his older sister’s hand
A little girl, standing next to her sister
Both of them wondering why
Their little brother died
And even that man
Saying Yizkor for his dead wife
For a brief moment
Looked like a lost child
Unsure if someone
Will ever be there
To light the way
So many children
Being cleansed by their tears.
In an instantaneous moment
Of infinite time
Something changed
Reciting the “el maleh rachamim”
In mournful dirge
Suddenly the windows opened
Souls ancient, eternal, transcendent
Seemed to stream into the space
Visible on everyone’s face
Each lost child
Seemed to be comforted
Through soul’s presence
Our prayers invited
A heavenly congregation
Of wondrous, watching, wise beings
Ancestral guides
Mommys, Daddys
Bubbys, Zaydes from the other side
Loved ones who walk with us
Day and night
Easing pain, loneliness and fright
And somehow in the afterglow
Of so many souls
Beckoned and present
As our praying moments
Softly came to an end
Each face, man, woman and child
Looked a little older
A little wiser
Deepened in the interior channels
Of heart and soul
Walking with dignity
The mourners path
Of our ancient sages
Deepened in knowing
Death and loss
Come what may
Are truly and evermore
Interwoven into
The mystery and the enigma
Of being alive
Of being human.


Holy One of Being
Be with us now
In this time of transition
When we mourn for the passing of the mourning
Into another phase of Life.
Bless us with the ability
To see ourselves
Let go of our holding of Mitchell
Zayde Mitch
Mr. Modern Supply
Let go of our Father, and Father-in-law
Let go of our ever-beloved Husband
Let go of our Grandfather
Let go of our Brother
Let go of our Uncle
Let go of Mitch, benevolent friend of many,
Businessman and leader
Who cared deeply
For family, friends, community, the Jewish people
This energetic and powerful man
This well-dressed man with the generous spirit
Who lived the drama of Life with passion, flare and style.
Held by so many with respect and love
Let go of him
Let go of him.
Ah…. [Take a deep breathe and imagine sending him off on his journey]
We do let go of him
His soul is free to evolve to the highest being of humanity.
To serve on yet another committee, this one in the higher realms
Where his presence lives on
Continuing to care for those whom he loves
We bless him for our memories
We keep them in our hearts
We bless him for all we have shared
And send him on his journey with love.
Holy One of Being
Join as One those of us who are left on earth
Let us feel courage along with our lingering pain
Let us love one another in peace and with respect
As he would wish it
Let us celebrate life to honor the life he lived.
Let us celebrate yet another party in his honor, as he would want us to do.
Mitchell Robinson
Zayde Mitch
Mr. Robinson
Michael Eliezer ben HaRav Avraham Yehuda v’Slovah
Beloved you remain in our hearts
Even in our times of yearning and mourning
Beloved you are to each one of us here gathered in your honor
Beloved you remain in our hearts
Blessed Be the Name of the Holy One of Being
Blessed Be the Name of the Holy One of Being
Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L’Olam Vaed.
Tehei Nishmato Tzrura B’zror HaChayyim
May his soul be welcomed into the Source of Life itself.
Tehei Nishmato Tzrura B’zror HaChayyim