web analytics
October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Making My Peace With Yizkor


Shmini Atzeres will be the fourth time I stay in shul for Yizkor. My father, Hy (Chaim Shlomo) Baras, died in Adar a year and a half ago. For the first year, my brothers and I did not say Yizkor. We began on Pesach and then again on Shavuos and Yom Kippur. I dreaded that first time. I’m a private mourner and I didn’t want to share or publicize my grief.

As I murmured the Yizkor prayer on the last day of Pesach, I had a strong sense of my father’s presence. I very much subscribe to the tradition which holds that the souls of departed family members attend family celebrations. I felt my father’s neshama at the bris of my grandson (Chaim Shlomo), and I had a similar feeling at Yizkor – that my father’s spirit was invoked by my thinking of him. Two weeks later, I dreamt about him. I rarely remember my dreams but I had a vision of my father lying in a hospital bed asleep. I was sitting in a chair next to him, stroking his hair and talking to him, and he gave a little smile even though his eyes were closed and he was unable to move. That’s it; that’s the whole dream, but it was so vivid and, by its very appearance, comforting, as if he had visited me.

One reason we recite Yizkor is to prod ourselves to repentance, which is particularly meaningful on Shmini Atzeres, when the Heavenly Appeals Court goes on hiatus. Did reciting Yizkor inspire me to repentance? I didn’t feel particularly changed but I was awed by what I consider to be an encounter with the metaphysical. Birth and death are transitional passages between life as we know it and The Beyond. As I davened for my father’s ever higher place in Gan Eden, Yizkor gave me a script, an ability to concretize my thoughts about his neshama’s journey in a dimension unknown to me.

Was it moving? How can you not be moved by an absolutely silent congregation of orphans listening intently to the chazan chanting, “May Hashem remember the soul of my father, my teacher. May his soul be bound in the bond of life together with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah; and with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden.” You’d have to be dead yourself not to be touched by that sentiment.

I don’t dread saying Yizkor anymore, but I can’t say I look forward to it, though I’ve already taken and survived my maiden voyage. I would prefer pondering my father’s life as well as his absence more spontaneously. But I know now what I’m in for. I know that the words are powerful, and that I am in the company of other mortals who are conjuring up their own memories and their own intimations of mortality. Both the words and the surrounding company give me strength. May they all, including the memories, be for a bracha.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Making My Peace With Yizkor”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Aerial view of Yemenite Village of HaShiloach, Old City of Jerusalem and Mt. of Olives.
Jews to Double Presence in Old Yemenite Village of Shiloach, Silwan
Latest Indepth Stories
Arab children look at pictures of two of a kind - Arafat and Barghouti.

{Originally posted on author’s site, FirstOne Through} The town of Sayreville, New Jersey is in mourning. The superintendent of the town shut the high school’s football program for the rest of the year due to reports of sexual assaults made by upper classmen of the football team against the junior classmen. According to initial reports, […]

Jordan's King Abdullah

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

The Kinneret/Sea of Galilee

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Bibeye doctor

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

Does it not seem ironic that just on the day all of Israel is joyously celebrating another year of having concluded the public reading of the entire Pentateuch, we must mournfully and even tearfully commemorate the death of the individual who imparted to us God’s Torah in the first place?

Why is “Palestine” worthier of “statehood recognition” than ISIS, another terrorist gang seeking it?

More Articles from Barbara Kessel

How can you not be moved by an absolutely silent congregation of orphans listening intently to the chazan chanting,

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/making-my-peace-with-yizkor/2004/11/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: