Finishing Saying Kaddish

A ritual to end the process of saying the Mourner's Kaddish for a loved one.

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Reprinted with permission of the author and Ritualwell.com.

The Kaddish prayer binds the generations together. But it also strengthens community ties. The inextricable bonds created by the daily minyan community became apparent to me soon after I began reciting Kaddish for my father five years ago at my synagogue, Temple Israel of Natick, Massachusetts. 

Seeing the same familiar faces each day at minyan became a significant part of the healing process. Total strangers soon became friends. Newcomers and old-timers alike, we sensed the presence of God in our holy community. Our small chapel became a sacred space where we embraced, comforted and sustained each other. When members of the minyan disappeared after their period of mourning came to an end, our close-knit group felt their absence.

There is truly never closure because the memory of our dearly beloved will eternally remain with us. However, I decided it was important to acknowledge both the individual’s transition from the mourner’s path and the important role of the minyan community during this spiritual journey. lifecycle

To do so, I created a ceremony (described below and which has evolved over the years) to mark the end of theKaddish period. An important part of the ceremony is the presentation of a daily prayer book, engraved with the name of the deceased relative and lovingly autographed on the inside front cover by each member of the minyan.

Leader:

Opens with a passage from Marcia Falk’s The Book of Blessings or other appropriate invocation.

Today, as a holy minyan community we mark the last day that [name] has recited the Kaddish prayer for his/her/their beloved [insert relationship, e.g. father, mother]. By reciting Kaddish and worshipping here as a member of the community of Israel, you have performed hesed shel emet, you have bestowed honor to the memory of your beloved [insert name and relationship, e.g. father, Morris Levy], and expressed an unbroken link with Am Yisrael, and have indeed kept [his/her] spirit alive within our community.

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Paula Jacobs is a Massachusetts-based writer.

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