Monday, April 23, 2018

A Year of Mourning - An Overwhleming Amen

So here I am at the Rabbinical Assembly convention. It’s something to which I look forward; spending time with colleagues; learning; simply being, if only for a few days.

This year the experience is just a little different. This year I am saying Kaddish. Saying Kaddish in a minyan is often a moving experience, but a small one. Even on Shabbat I am surrounded by a relatively small crowd, sometimes spread out across a large room, with many reciting Kaddish together. The experience here is different. Hundreds of rabbis in a small room, crowded, standing together, but only a few of us are saying Kaddish. Our individual voices can clearly be heard across the room. In many ways it is so much lonelier than what I have been experiencing. 

But then... there is the response... A hundred strong voices booming out to answer our words. I feel it in my heart, in my sternum, it vibrates through me in answer to my pain. Then I realize friends and colleagues are turning towards me. They smile. Their expressions reaching out in support. Tears fill my eyes. I strengthen my voice. 

After minyan people check in. Those further from me in the room come over. “Did I hear you saying Kaddish? Who died? When?” There are questions about memories. Some remember my dad from our JTS years. There are hugs. Hands on my shoulders. More smiles. More tears almost leaking from my eyes, but, for the moment at least, staying put.

And I wonder, after this, how do I return to my regular minyan?

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