What holds me now I cling to daily. I stand and recite the Kaddish, the scaffolding holding my heart together after your departure.
My personal Kaddish continues to surprise me with its variations of meaning. Somedays its spiritual while other days it’s a mere technicality; another form of ritual OCD. Whatever its ascribed meaning of the day - all of it is in your name.
The meanings of my Kaddish:
Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba
Kaddish- what lets me cling to you for just a little while longer
b'al'ma di v'ra khir'utei
A way for me continue to give to you, anything at all
v'yam'likh mal'khutei b'chayeikhon uv'yomeikhon
That thing that keeps me sane
uv'chayei d'khol beit yis'ra'eil
A nagging voice waking me at ungodly hours
ba'agala uviz'man kariv v'im'ru- Amen
Forcing me to synagogue to be with my tribe
And confront God daily
Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varakh l'alam ul'al'mei al'maya
Its how I get men to pay attention to a woman’s presence and pace in prayer
Yit'barakh v'yish'tabach v'yit'pa'ar v'yit'romam v'yit'nasei
Which makes me stop to look up to you with a wink...I know you’d get a kick out of that
v'yit'hadar v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal sh'mei d'kud'sha- B'rikh hu.
My Kaddish travels to all corners of the world
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru- amen
Berlin, Dupont circle, Tel Aviv, Brooklyn, Chicago, Berkeley
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya
At times with the anxiety of waiting for that 10th body
v'chayim aleinu v'al kol yis'ra'eil
I choose to surrender
To become dependent on those strange faces around me
Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom
Dad, if a soul has the possibility to be elevated, then I am lifting you with every finger
aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil
A constant reminder to cherish you
A way to continue loving you
It’s quite devious to admit but I think my father would have been hesitant about me saying Kaddish. It was far enough from anything resembling a norm in our community that within our communities the subject of women saying kaddish did not warrant discussion. I took on the practice anyway, and recited the daily kaddish aloud to a quorum.
We probably would have debated it. And I possibly would have won given the historical and halachic evidence that embraced women in reciting this prayer. I am the eldest of four girls and though it’s customary for the eldest male child to say the prayer or pass it on to the closest male relative, I wasn’t at peace with this, I needed to feel his presence involved in my daily life; I needed to personalize it.