OK, this one’s going to be a bit more serious than usual. Apologies in advance and I swear, we’ll soon be right back to the funny.
You may remember that I told you that I go to synagogue every day to say a prayer for my mother. Since I never elaborated on that and tomorrow is the last day I’ll be doing it, I thought I would.
The name of the prayer is Kaddish and even though you say it in memory of a dead person, it has nothing at all to do with death, doesn’t mention your loved one, and is said routinely throughout every service for other reasons. It isn’t even in Hebrew, it’s in Aramaic, that special language popularized by Mel Gibson. I hear he chats with his friends in Aramaic all the time, just to confuse the paparazzi.
Anyway, what makes it the prayer for dead people, is that once or twice at every service, usually at the end, all the people in mourning stand up and say it together in unison. Sort of. See, I’ve been to a lot of services this year, and without someone leading, the mourners sometimes have a terrible time getting it together to be in unison. At one service I frequent, there’s a guy who kind of yells it, as though he thinks maybe his loved one or God can’t quite hear him. Other people go really fast, because their loved ones clearly should know that they have an appointment to go to. Others kind of sing it. I think I hate that most. At the service I went to last night they went really slow. I had to constantly slow down my recitation so I wouldn’t get ahead of them. People! I’ve been saying this for eleven months already. Let’s go now.
The Kaddish is just a few paragraphs stating with lots of adjectives how great God is (the Aramaic thesaurus seems to have been just worn out by the guy who wrote this). This doesn’t seem very powerful but if you have ever had someone in your life upon whom you are greatly dependant and who was, in actuality, a part of your very being, never ever be there anymore, well, it’s quite a challenge to stand up each and every day and tell God that He just rocks your world. I think the line that had the most influence on me is the one that states that God is greater than any song. I think they mean hymn by this but for me it was more powerful to think song. Because you all know that for me, well, songs are the building blocks of life. What could be greater than a song? Oh right.
But I started to think about how many places I’ve said it this last eleven months. I guess that’s the statistician’s daughter in me. I came up with:
5 synagogues in Manhattan
4 synagogues called Young Israel of Suburbia
3 people’s houses (during a shiva, or mourning week, you have services in people’s houses)
2 synagogues in Israel
2 shteebels (little informal synagogues)
1 office (some people’s offices have services if they have enough people who want it)
1 store (seriously)
Sometimes, I’m the only one saying it, often I’m the only woman saying it (men are required, for women it’s considered more optional), usually, I’m the youngest one saying it. Lots of times, I had to rearrange my schedule. Sometimes, I barely made it in time. It’s been a crazy near-year. Why not a whole year? Well, that’s the maximum it takes for a person to make it to the next world. You know, the most evil souls take that long. We all like to hope our parents don’t fall into that category so we don’t go the whole year, just 11 months.
Now that I’ll have an extra hour in my day I’m sure I’ll use it for something terrifically important like the gym or volunteer work. Or, more likely, I’ll watch a little more TV. It’ll be nice to finally be able to see the first hour of the Yankee game and hey, Wimbledon starts this week. Yes, I’m SO going to be a better person with my newfound hour. I may even blog four times a week instead of three. And there’s that whole “Plan for World Peace” I’ve been meaning to work on. That or more Netflix videos. It’s going to be a tough call, I can see.
XTC – Dear God
This song is about questioning God, but Judaism is all about that. My mother loved this song.