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Alternative Yizkor Prayers To Say For Abusive Parents

Two moving renditions of Yizkor to recite in addition to, or in place of the traditional Yizkor prayer.

Traditionally, Jews recite the Yizkor prayer for their deceased parents. But what does one say for a parent who was abusive or neglectful, especially if the survivor’s feelings for their parents are unresolved or acrimonious?

Two rabbis have written these moving renditions which you may choose to recite in addition to, or in place of the traditional Yizkor prayer.

A Yizkor Meditation in Memory of a Parent Who Hurt

By Rabbi Robert Saks

Dear God,
You know my heart.
 Indeed, You know me better than I know myself, so I turn to You before I rise for Kaddish.
My emotions swirl as I say this prayer. The parent I remember was not kind to me. His/her death left me with a legacy of unhealed wounds, of anger and of dismay that a parent could hurt a child as I was hurt.
I do not want to pretend to love, or to grief that I do not feel, but I do want to do what is right as a Jew and as a child.
Help me, O God, to subdue my bitter emotions that do me no good, and to find that place in myself where happier memories may lie hidden, and where grief for all that could have been, all that should have been, may be calmed by forgiveness, or at least soothed by the passage of time.
I pray that You, who raise up slaves to freedom, will liberate me from the oppression of my hurt and anger, and that You will lead me from this desert to Your holy place.

A Yizkor Prayer For Victims of Abuse

by Rabbi Ira F. Stone
 May God remember my (father) (mother)
who has gone to his/her eternal home.
May he/she be granted an opportunity
to expiate the sins of his/her
terrible acts against me.
May the loving fire of God’s justice
relieve him/her of the pain which corrupted
the natural love of a parent for a child.
May God help me remember
that my mother/father joined
with God in giving me the gift of life
and for that gift, despite the pain
that has at times accompanied it,
I am grateful.
Mindful of that gratitude
and as an offering on behalf of my
father’s/mother’s penitence, I pledge
to do acts of loving kindness and charity.
May my father/mother at last fine peace
in the eternal bond with God.
May I find peace in this world
and salvation in the world to come.
Reprinted with permission from Kerem: Creative Explorations of Judaism
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