Posts Tagged ‘burrial and mourning’

 

For Rabbi Peter Knobel, z”l

Posted on: August 21st, 2019 by Alden No Comments

Rabbi Peter Knobel z”l has died after suffering a massive heart attack almost two weeks ago. A gadol b’dor, a giant of this generation, a tzaddik, his Hebrew name was Tzaddik. He brought the love of Jewish learning — the place where Torah and intellect meet — to thousands. He chaired the Central Conference of American Rabbis and was our first family rabbi at Beth Emet The Free Synagogue. He led the drive to create a new Reform Siddur, Mishkan T’fillah, and was the first rabbi to encourage me to explore my voice as a Jewish writer. This prayer, dedicated here to Peter, was first published as “Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure.” Even as public eulogies begin, many of us will need private meditations for grieving.

For Rabbi Peter Knobel, z”l
Source of blessings,
Deal kindly with the soul of Rabbi Peter Knobel,
Who left a legacy of Torah and righteousness in this world,
A legacy of love, care and inspiration,
A legacy for the generations.

Rock of comfort,
So many were touched by him,
As was I,
And grief casts a shadow over my heart.
Even as his legacy is celebrated publicly,
With honors and praises due,
Hear my personal prayer,
My private grief and loss.
Let his memory become a light
For the days and years ahead.
And let those memories, private and public,
Grow stronger with the passing time,
Becoming a well of consolation.

G-d of all being,
Grant a perfect rest under Your canopy of peace to Rabbi Knobel,
My rabbi,
Our rabbi.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

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Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 by Alden No Comments

A beloved teacher, I didn’t get the chance to know Rabbi Aaron Panken z’l. Yet from everything written about him — from obituaries to Facebook posts — knowing him would have been an immense blessing. I wrote this months ago and hadn’t gotten around to posting it. The idea, which came from a friend, was that in the flow of beautiful, communal, public mourning, one could forget that private and small group moments of mourning are also important to the grieving process. It seems to me that posting this in his memory would be a fitting tribute.

Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure
Source of blessings,
Deal kindly with the soul of ________________ (name)
Who left a legacy of ________________ (one-word description, e.g.: Torah, music, dance, diplomacy…)
In this world,
A legacy of love, care and inspiration,
A legacy for the generations.

Rock of comfort,
So many were touched by him/her,
As was I,
And grief casts a shadow over my heart.
Even as he/she is celebrated publicly,
With honors and praises due,
Hear my personal prayer,
My private grief and loss.
Let his/her memory become a light
For the days and years ahead.
And let those memories, private and public,
Grow stronger with the passing time,
Becoming a well of consolation.

G-d of all being,
Grant a perfect rest under Your canopy of peace to him/her.
May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: I wrote this at the suggestion of a friend. It’s rare that I can’t remember — or find a note telling me — who gave me the idea for a particular piece. If it’s you, I apologize and please send me a private message of some kind so I can fix this.

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Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: HUC-JIR

Travel after an Unexpected Death

Posted on: July 2nd, 2017 by Alden No Comments

Air Plane in Blue SkyThis is a prayer to be said upon traveling to attend a funeral after an unexpected death. The blank line is for inserting the name of the deceased. This appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Travel After an Unexpected Death
Today,
God of Old,
Is a day I never imagined
And never prepared to face.

God of the bereaved,
Bless us as we come together
At this moment of desolation and despair.
Give me the presence of mind
To be a source of wisdom and strength
In this hour of need.
Bless my/our family with consolation and endurance,
Comfort and peace.

God of old,
Bless the soul of __________________________ (full name).
May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: See also, “Travel to an Unexpected Family Emergency.”

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

Death of a Horrible Relative

Posted on: February 12th, 2017 by Alden No Comments

imageWhen family members die, we strive to remember the best moments of their lives. We must also recognize the complexity of mourning when a person has suffered trauma at hand of a newly-departed relative. Although a response to death, this is a personal prayer of healing. It is intended for private use. Optional verses appear in [brackets]. Alternative word choices are separated with a slash (“/”).

Death of a Horrible Relative
Dad/Mom/_________ (other relative, name or relationship),
So many moments of pain,
So many chances for healing that you abandoned,
So much suffering that you caused,
And now, you are dead.
What is it that I/we mourn?
The dad/mom/_________ (other relative) we never had?
The loss of so much time and energy
To the misery you caused?
The hope that one day you would become
A person of integrity and valor,
Kindness and love?

As in life,
Your death brings mixed emotions,
Different for each of us in our family as we grapple to understand,
As we grapple to find comfort and peace.

G-d of Old,
[Where were You when our family needed healing?]
[Where were You in the pain the sorrow?]
Help me to let go of the false hopes and empty promises
That never came to be.
Teach me to accept my past as it was
So I can embrace a richer tomorrow.
Teach me to release my anger and pain
So that I may lead a life of awe and wonder,
Full of joy and laughter.
Help me to move on.
[Help me to forgive. So that one day I can say:]
May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
[At long last,]
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2017 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: See also “Grieving the Living.” Here’s a link to all of my Yizkor and memorial prayers.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

One is Everything

Posted on: December 21st, 2016 by Alden No Comments

We’re surrounded by violence. Orlando. Nice. Tel Aviv. Pittsburgh. Innocents dead at the hand of terror. In Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France, an 84-year-old priest was murdered in his church, Fr. Jacques Hamel. It made instant world news and faded just as fast. There are so many other terror attacks. Larger attacks. More than one dead.

ADDENDUM, April 28, 2019: In memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, z”l, who was murdered at the Chabad center outside San Diego during services, I’ve added a new line: “A woman in prayer.” Also, in the opening stanza, I’ve added references to that attack and the Tree of Life massacre.

One is Everything: A Meditation on Numbers and Terror
Orlando, 16 June 2016, 49 souls
Kabul, 23 July 2016, 80 souls
Nice, 14 July 2016, 84 souls
Baghdad, 3 July 2016, 325+ souls
Pittsburgh, 27 October, 2018, 11 souls
Dallas, 7 July 2016, 5 souls
Tel Aviv, 3 July 2016, 4 souls
Rouen, 26 July 2016, 1 soul
Poway, 27 April 2019, 1 soul

One soul.
Just one soul and the world moves on.
We are shocked by the scale of terror.
The 49 and the 84 and the 325
With a plus sign next to it because, well,
It’s just tough to get an accurate count
In so much death.

One is everything.
Each one a human.
Each one a life.
One is enough to cry out to heaven.

When we count the scope of terror,
The range of death,
Remember, too,
The injured and the wounded,
The witness and the bystander,
The first responder and the families.

One is 100 witnesses.
One is 1,000 mourners.
One is 10,000 traumas.
One is a soul G-d sent to this earth.
One is everything.
A priest doing holy work.
A boy studying Torah.
A girl sleeping in her bed.
A woman in prayer.
One soul. One heartbeat.
One more, too soon.

G-d of Consolation,
Every soul is Yours,
A world, unique and holy.
Let Your peace reign quickly among us.
Let violence, hatred and terror vanish.
Let Your comfort descend from heaven,
And let the righteous rest in peace.

© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The list of terror attacks maintained on Wikipedia is astounding. Hundreds dead each month all over the world. One and one and one. The Talmud says that saving a life is equal to saving the world; taking a life is the equivalent of destroying the world. One is everything.

This is a modified version of an essay that first appeared on RitualWell. See also a prayer “To the Terrorist,” which is part of my “Liturgy after Terror Attacks,” originally written for my “Liturgy for 9-11.”

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Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

On Lighting a Yizkor or Yartziet Candle

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 by Alden No Comments

imageThis is a simple new meditation, appropriate for both Yizkor and a Yartziet, to be said before or after lighting a memorial candle. The language is inclusive, accessible to persons of all faiths. Let all who mourn find peace. This piece appears in my book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

On Lighting a Memorial Candle
A candle.
A flame.
A memory.

G-d of generations,
Grant a perfect rest under Your tabernacle of peace
To ____________________ (name),
Who has left this life and this world.
Let his/her/their soul find comfort.
Let his/her/their memory be a blessing.

This candle is for healing,
This flame is for hope,
Calling forth our joys and sorrows,
Calling forth our hours and our days.

G-d of our ancestors,
Bring me and my family solace and consolation
In this moment of remembrance.
Let all who mourn find peace.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers For a New Day

Postscript: Here’s a link to my other yizkor prayers and prayers of mourning. Thanks to Rabbi Paul Kipnes for suggesting that I write a new prayer for lighting a memorial candle.

Please check out my Meet the Author video and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Hard Mournings

Posted on: August 9th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

YahrzeitThis is a prayer about the rhythm of mourning. Those first days – perhaps months or more – are often reminders of sorrow, emptiness and loneliness, especially in the quiet times. The closing line is a reference to Psalm 30:12: “You turned my mourning into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” This piece appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Hard Mournings
Mornings are the toughest,
That between time
When I’m not quite awake,
When my mind settles
Back to the familiarity and
The certainty of you.
Until I remember your passing.
Hard mornings,
Hard mournings,
Blend into evenings
Of solitude and sorrow.

Perhaps I’m wrong.
Evenings are the problem,
When the quiet crushes my breath
And the growing darkness
Shadows my heart
Until blessed sleep
Descends from heaven.

Mornings are the toughest
New beginnings,
Each day an echo of loss.
Evenings are the roughest reminders
Of your absence.
Each night a hollow silence,
Emptiness in the space you once held.

One day
I will breathe again.
The Soul of the Universe
Will turn my sorrow into dancing.
I will remove this sackcloth
And live again.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day

Postscript: Here’s an annotated list of my yizkor, memorial and mourning prayers.

Please check out my ELItalk video, “Falling in Love with Prayer,” and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. For reprint permissions and usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Nahalot

Chukat: Living Waters

Posted on: June 21st, 2015 by Alden No Comments

living waterIn Chukat, this week’s parasha, the prophet Miriam dies. After she’s buried, the scene abruptly shifts to the lack of water in the wilderness. We’re left wondering: How did the people mourn her loss? To get water, G-d tells Moses to gather the people and speak with a rock. Instead, Moses strikes the rock with his staff. Water pours out. Rabbi Sharyn Henry notes that Moses hasn’t yet mourned for Miriam. Striking the rock, she says, is his reaction to unexpressed grief. The water and his tears are the same. This prayer is based on Rabbi Henry’s midrash.

Living Waters
Let the well of living waters
Flow through me
From the Source,
From ancient pools
Of holiness and light,
Ancient pools that sustain the body
And soothe the heart.

My grief has turned
My heart to stone,
My sorrow and loneliness
Have hardened my veins.
Crack me open with Your divine rod.
Release my tears with your staff.
Let me know wholeness
And peace,
Once again.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: As a result of striking the rock, Moses is denied entry to the Promised Land. Rabbis have struggled with explaining why so small a sin would yield so major a punishment. One common explanation is that, with his act, Moses diminished a miracle of G-d. I propose taking Rabbi Henry’s midrash a step further to explain Moses’ punishment, as well. Moses has a direct and intimate relationship with G-d; we’re told that that relationship is unlike any that came before or will come after. Instead of turning to G-d for healing, Moses holds his grief inside and finally lashes out. He, of all people, should have known to turn to G-d. Perhaps his sin can be understood as withdrawing from G-d. For Moses, that would be quite a sin, indeed.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Diodocs

Passing of a Beloved Pet

Posted on: December 21st, 2014 by Alden No Comments

LovieWhen a beloved pet passes away, many of us struggle with the loss of a dear, loving presence, the loss of companionship and a true friend. Optional language appears in [brackets], including a request for forgiveness if the pet needed to be euthanized. Blanks are for including the pet’s name and the type of pet. Other choices are shown with a slash (“/”). This is a photo of my daughter’s cat Lovie, who recently passed away. This prayer appears in This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press.

Passing of a Beloved Pet
In sorrow and love
I/We remember ______________ (pet’s name)
Our beloved __________ (type of pet: dog, cat, etc.)
Who provided [years of] companionship
And endless joy.
You were more than a pet to me/us,
Becoming a member of my/our family,
Providing consolation in times of loss,
Giving me/us laughter and delight
And a sense of well-being,
Rich with memories,
Rich in love.
The pain is deep.
The empty space,
Too wide to comprehend.

[Forgive me/us, dear ______________ (pet’s name),
For my/our decision to remove you from
The suffering you endured.
We/I did it with deep sorrow
Placing kindness for you above
My/Our desire for more time together.]

G-d of the bereaved,
Grant me/us find solace in the days ahead,
And peace of mind as time passes.
Let my/our memories of the time/years together
With ______________ (pet’s name)
Be an endless source of wonder
In tribute to his/her memory.

Rest in peace.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers For a New Day

Postscript: This appears in my new book This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day from CCAR Press. Here’s a list of memorial and yizkor prayers, many of which appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Please check out my Meet the Author video and This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day. Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” To receive my latest prayers via email, please subscribe (on the home page). You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Nikki Braziel-Solovy

After an Accidental Death: A Yizkor Prayer

Posted on: December 7th, 2014 by Alden No Comments

437px-CandleThis is another in a series of focused yizkor prayers to help acknowledge particular circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one, such as: “In Memory of an Organ Donor,” “At the Hand of Violence,” “Yizkor for a Lone Soldier” and “At the Hand of Anti-Semitism.” May the memory of the righteous be a blessing.

After an Accidental Death: A Yizkor Prayer
G-d of secrets,
Source and shelter,
Grant a perfect rest under your tabernacle of peace
To ______________________ (name),
My [father / mother / sister / brother / child / wife / dear one/ friend]
Whose life was cut off without warning,
In a moment of inconceivable horror,
Cut down [in the fullness of life / in his/her prime /before we were ready].
Even in this darkness,
Even in this grief and void that seem beyond repair,
Help us to remember his/her wisdom, talents and skills,
Our times together,
Our joy, laughter and tears.
Let our memories continue to bless us
Even as we pray for him / her to find peace
In the world to come.
May his / her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2014 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: Here is a list of memorial and yizkor prayers, many of which appear in my book, Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing.

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: WikiMedia Commons

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