My beautiful mother passed away in late December of 2014, the 7th night of Channukah.
My memories of reciting kaddish are mostly those of frustration, confusion, and anger with moments of clarity and love sprinkled throughout. I feel it is most honest to share my story with you through a selection of journal entries.
Sunday 21 June 2015
I woke up at 8:45, just enough time to run to shacharit, but I didn’t go. It just feels like such a battle to say kaddish there and no one is even responding to me. So does it even count? What’s the difference.
Monday 20 July 2015
I feel so uncomfortable sitting here. Telling me to say kaddish quieter. I just want to scream at them. Let them know how it feels to walk in here everyday with a knot in my stomach because i fear my tefillah will not be met with an amen because they would rather i not speak. What happened to comforting the mourner? To respecting the ones who died?
For the first time since January there is another woman sitting back here with me. I’m skeptical.
**this entry was written moments before I was treated with egregious disrespect and in tears, and confusion walked out.
Tuesday 28 July 2015
Three ladies in mourning wait for a minyan.
Thursday morning 30 July 2015
It’s always a bummer to come to shacharit and not have a minyan. Bummer’s kinda an understatement because it actually makes my throat get all tight and I want to run out crying because this whole system is so bothersome. Like why can’t communities get their shit together. This is why communities struggle here because at the source - what is there?
At least today there’s only nine human beings [in total]. I fucking hate it when the women equal to 10 or more but our souls aren’t recognized as minyan. Come on.
But at the same time, I don’t feel comfortable saying kaddish in a conservative minyan. Why? I don’t know.
Tuesday First day of September 2015
I’m so thankful for ariela and debbie. Kaddish this morning was just rude.
Why does a prayer about peace and God’s greatness have to be so chaotic and leave one feeling so empty. It’s like each time the wound is reopened and a dagger repeatedly stabbed in my heart every time our voices are ignored. every time our brachot are not answered with an amen.
Or today, how the shofar was blown before we were even finished reciting our kaddish. What is the wake up call of the shofar even for, if not to wake ourselves out of our self-involved universe and remind us of the larger system we are part of, the people around us.
Monday 26 October 2015
Why do men make it a point to say kaddish stupidly fast? Like why go out of your way when you know others say it slower. This aggravates me to no end.
Wednesday 28 october 2015
16 more days of kaddish. How do i feel? Tired. Maybe empty. Today I feel empty. Lonely, maybe. Maybe wishing other memories of Ema would pop into my head other than the rush and blur that was 2014. I just want to know where you are now and what is the universe for you.
Wednesday 11 November 2015
Not until this week, maybe even today, have I been ok and content with saying Kaddish at my own pace. without frustration that the other side says it without regard for my words my pace, because finally it hit me that I don't need a man's amen when I have God and Ema and all of shamayim with me.
Thursday 12 November 2015
How ridiculous is it that I feel a desire to say “thank you” to the men who specifically acknowledge my kaddish.
Sunday 15 November 2015
Tomorrow is a new day. No more kaddish.
I will be in charge of my mornings.
It’s somewhat unfathomable how 11 months have come and gone. 11 months without Ema. I’ve barely caught my breath and the tears have yet to cease and the wound is still so so fresh.
Tuesday night 2 February 2016 10:35 PM
Kaddish interviews tomorrow. I feel sort of funny doing interviews without having interviewed myself yet.
I remember we didn’t say kaddish at the cemetery because it was chanukkah.
I remember the first one that we said at home, in the living room. Uncle Meir commenting on how we should recite “y’hei shmay rabah” with everyone and not repeat it because it will throw people off. But the first kaddish that we ever said was at a random rest stop on the way home from Rosewood cemetery in maryland to home [sharon, ma]. There were gingerbread houses in the conference room left over from a team building exercise, it was all weird.
I remember the Torah at home looking like a corpse, wrapped in a talit, lying on the pingpong table in the basement.
I remember reciting it 3 times a day when i was home in january.
I remember crying as i said it for the first time without auntie anne saying it because shloshim was over. We were at someone else’s shivah house.
I remember being so nervous about not finding a minyan in brooklyn and that anxiety being multiplied by [my brother’s] confusing attitude towards kaddish.
I remember always crying anytime that me and my brothers together recited kaddish, and us alone.
I remember the first kabbalat shabbat back in brooklyn and how painful that was.
I remember the first time that my voice alone recited kaddish and how powerful that felt.
I remember how anxious and fed up I was at [the synagogue who shall not be named] wondering every single day if I would be able to say kaddish or if the chazzan would just rush through it. EVEN THOUGH I CAME EVERY FUCKING DAY. Until they were just complete --I’m struggling with the word that expresses just how fucking demoralizing, horrible, insensitive, chauvinistic assholes they were for telling me to say kaddish quieter.
I wish i could have forgiven them and moved on but it still boils my insides to think that people can be that insensitive.
I remember feeling comforted by avishai speaking up for me, and the two of us marching out of there mid-davening, tears uncontrollable.
I remember how nervous I was to go to NYU’s minyan but how delightful surprise I was to learn that I could recite kaddish by myself there. Those kids were the sweetest.
It was always knots-in-the-stomach terrifying for me to say kaddish in a new place, never knowing how they would receive me, if i would actually be able to say it.
I forever wonder what this experience would have been like if it could be rid of all the anxiety and simply say it.
I remember Dov’s rooftop one friday night in the summer. It was time to recite kaddish but there only being 9 men (and like a lot of women). My brother was supposed to be there but he wasn’t. Fuck it, I decided to recite kaddish because I was tired of my soul not counting. I took it as a sign that my brother walked in as I was just beginning the prayer. I took it as a sign that I made the right choice. My soul is enough.
I remember being thankful for [the synagogue who shall not be named] being insensitive assholes because it lead me to Ariela... and then unfortunately Debbie, who joined our kaddish club in August.
I remember by the end, not giving a shit if I was off pace with the old men in shul because we are powerful women and our voices together were enough for me, and I’m sure enough for You.