Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Circle of Remembering: A #BlogElul Post

We Jews are a remembering people.  I think it’s in our DNA.

Each week in welcoming Shabbat, we are commanded to “shamor v’zachor”— to “keep” and to “remember.”  Later in the service, we are told of the various ways to love Adonai, “Thus [we] shall remember to observe all [God’s] commandments and to be holy….”  Still later, we remember that God redeemed us from slavery in Egypt, and, one more time, before the Kaddish, we remember those whose finite flame has been consumed and is no more.

Each year we observe Yom HaZikaron, remembering the Israeli soldiers who died in battle, just as we remember and retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt annually and, seven weeks later, recall the presence of our entire community atop Mt. Sinai.

Is it any wonder, then, that, individually, I do my share of remembering?

In this, my very first blog post ever, I remember Chaim Glasberg, a man I never knew.

Here, I remember Tante Mina, a cousin I never knew.  (Don’t ask why earlier generations referred to a cousin as Tante…I don’t know the answer.)

In this post, I recall visits to the cemetery before the High Holidays.  It’s ever more poignant now that my mother’s there instead of shuttling us from grave to grave.

My memories of Mrs. Steinberg—oh, how I miss her!—were recorded here, just a day after her funeral this past March.

Blogging’s not the same without comments from Larry Kaufman, and here’s my tribute to him.

And my mother?  Nothing’s the same without her, and I’ve written too many posts to remember each one distinctly.  This one, though, from early in my remembering of her, quite fittingly includes this comment from Larry Kaufman:

Jane, I lost my mother eighteen years ago, and my father more than fifty years ago, and the meditation before Kaddish that continues to resonate for me is #6 in Mishkan T’filah, especially these lines:
“…those who live no more echo still within our thoughts and words, and what they did is part of what we have become.”
You have the special consolation of knowing that what your mother did is part of what many of us have become.
May these words from Rabbi Levy stand alongside those you quote from Rabbi Greenberg in bringing you comfort and healing.

In the end, I think it all comes back to “shamor v’zachor”—to keep and to remember; “zachor v’shamor”—to remember and to keep.  We keep them close so we can remember them.  We remember them so we can keep them close.  Just as they were part of our circle of life, so, too, are they part of our circle of remembering.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima,this post is one in a series marking the days of the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the Jewish High Holidays and traditionally serves as a time of reflection and spiritual preparation for the new year.