Sunday, April 4, 2021 following the Torah service—As we mark the close of the Passover Festival, we will remember loved ones who are no longer with us at our Yizkor service. Our tradition oﬀers us moments for public memorials around times, like the Passover seder, when our loved ones may be acutely missed. By invoking the names and memories of loved ones—introspecting on how we can live out the values of our loved ones through mitzvot and tzedakah, and praying for the safekeeping of their souls and memories—we are connecting with, and supporting them.
Torah (Deuteronomy 16:20) teaches that an Israelite making a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem for one of the Festivals should not arrive empty handed—that this 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) because Proverbs 20:27 teaches that the “soul of human is the candle or lamp of God”.
People often ask if they should 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.
May we all have a liberating and joyous Passover. I look forward to seeing you at the end of the festival as we remember together people we love.
– Rabbi Harry