Saturday, April 27, 2019 — As the Passover Festival draws to a close on Shabbat, April 27 we have the opportunity at our Yizkor service to remember loved ones no longer on this planet with us. The Yizkor ritual offers us powerful moments for public memorial at those times through the year, like the Passover Seder, when our loved ones may be missed acutely. By invoking the names and memories of loved ones while introspecting on how we can live out their values through mitzvot and tzedakah and by praying for the safekeeping of their souls and memories, we connect with and support them.
The Torah instructs (Deuteronomy 16:20) that Israelites making pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem for one of the Festivals are not to arrive empty handed, that it is a time for righteous giving. Thus it has become a tradition at the holy days to give tzedakah in memory of loved ones. Another tradition is lighting a 24 hour yahrzeit candle known in Hebrew as a ner neshamah (soul candle) reflecting the teaching in the book of Proverbs 20:27 that the “soul of human is the candle or lamp of God”.
People often ask should they participate in Yizkor if their first year of mourning is not over. Although fading memory is not a paramount issue within the first year of mourning, Yizkor is a great opportunity to be held in the embrace of the community and publicly mourn. People also ask when the service will take place. Yizkor happens in the morning service after the Torah service.
I hope you are experiencing a liberating and joyous Passover. I look forward to seeing you at the end of the festival as together we remember people we love.