Tag Archives: kaddish

The Siddur’s Healing Power

By Paula Jacobs (Framingham, MA)

It looks like any ordinary prayer book: blue cover, plain lettering, traditional Jewish prayers, and printed in the USA. While the prayer book has bound Jews throughout the world for centuries, I never imagined that an ordinary siddur would transform my pain to healing, while teaching me the real meaning of connection and community.

When I was reciting kaddish for my father at my synagogue’s daily minyan many years ago, the prayer book became my daily companion as a source of solace and cherished memories. During my kaddish year, the siddur linked me to generations past throughout the Jewish calendar cycle. As I prayed, memories flowed, reminding me of family holiday dinners, Chanukah parties, Purim celebrations, and more.

Through the prayer book, I gained a profound, lasting appreciation for the value of a prayer community. Granted, when I began attending minyan, I initially struggled with some of the communal customs: rapid-fire recitation aloud of certain prayers, calling out the page number before the Aleinu prayer, and light bantering during the services. Sometimes I lost patience with leaders who davened too slowly or too fast, made Hebrew mistakes, or chanted off key.

But the siddur taught me what truly counts, what community is all about, and how to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual created in the image of God. By praying in community, I learned the invaluable lesson to appreciate fully the humanity of those with whom we pray and the intrinsic value of participating in something greater than ourselves.

Once I understood that important lesson, I began to heal. I also decided to help other community members heal by creating a ceremony to mark the end of kaddish. This ceremony features the presentation of a siddur signed by minyan members, symbolizing the community’s support role during the year of aveilut or mourning.  

As I continue to conduct this ceremony 18 years later, I am grateful that the siddur keeps me connected to community. It’s something I think about whenever I present a siddur to a community member and whenever mourners share their personal stories or photographs and memorabilia with the entire minyan community after receiving their siddur.

I am also grateful that the siddur has connected me to a story greater than my own. As I reflect upon the more than 200 stories I have heard, I recall the nonagenarian who died surrounded by his loving children and grandchildren; the father who sent his young children alone from Cuba to make a new life in America; the 20-something widowed mother who became a successful business-woman; the first-generation American who became a judge; the Holocaust survivor who built a new life and family in America; the elderly father who fulfilled his lifelong dream of making aliyah; and other family members who left behind a legacy of treasured memories.

I look at the signatures of those who signed my siddur when I finished saying kaddish. I see the faces of those who stood beside me as we recited the Mourners Kaddish: the young woman mourning her mother, the elderly man reciting kaddish for his late wife, and others who have since moved away or passed on. We were once strangers but through death our lives have become intertwined. And it is the ancient Jewish prayer book that has bound us eternally together and enabled us to heal.

Paula Jacobs writes about Jewish culture, religion, and Israel. Her articles have appeared in such publications as Tablet Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and The Forward.  If you’d like to read more about the ceremony that she created to mark the end of Kaddish, visit  https://www.ritualwell.org/ritual/traveling-mourners-path

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How To Bury Your Mother

by Leslea Newman (Holyoke, MA)

Slip out of the dark limo
into the bright light of day
the way you once slipped
out of your mother:
blinking, surprised, teary-eyed.
Turn to your father
and let him take the crook of your arm
like the crooked old man
you never thought he’d become.
Feel your heels sink into the earth
with every sorry step you take.
Weave your way through the graves
of strangers who will keep your mother
company forever: the Greenblatts,
the Goldbergs, the Shapiros, the Steins.
Stop at a small mountain of dirt
next to a hole that holds the plain pine box
that holds what’s left of your mother.
Listen to the rabbi mumble
prayers you’ve heard a hundred times
but this time offer no comfort.
Smell the sweet honeysuckle breeze
that is making your stomach buckle.
Feel the sun bake your little black dress.
Wait for the rabbi to close
his little black book.
Bring your father close to the earth
that is waiting to blanket your mother.
Watch him shove the shovel
into the mound upside down
showing the world how distasteful
this last task is.
See him dump clumps of soil
onto your mother’s casket.
Hear the dull thuds
of your heart hammering your chest.
Watch how your father plants the shovel
into the silent pile of dirt
and then walks off
slumped over like a man
who finally admits defeat.
Step up to the mound.
Grasp the shovel firmly.
Lift it up and feel the warm wood
between your two damp hands.
Jab the shovel into the soil.
Toss the hard brown lumps
into that dark gaping hole.
Hear the dirt rain down upon your mother.
Surrender
the shovel to your brother.
Drag yourself away.
Do not look back.

Lesléa Newman is the author of 70 books for readers of all ages, including the poetry collections, I Carry My Mother and October Mourning: A Song For Matthew Shepard (novel-in-verse) and the picture books A Sweet Passover, My Name Is Aviva, and Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed.

If you’d like to take a look at the book trailer for I Carry My Mother, visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf4ubYHObAM

“How to Bury Your Mother” copyright © 2015 Lesléa Newman from I Carry My Mother (Headmistress Press, Sequim, WA 2015). Used by permission of the author.

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An Appreciative Smile

by Sheldon P Hersh (Lawrence, NY)

He stopped rather suddenly at the door pausing to take in the room’s layout and carefully eyeing its contents. Visibly on edge, he began to fidget nervously as though preparing himself for some  unforeseen danger that could possibly be lurking nearby. After all, he had managed to survive the war when so many had not. His short stature belied an inner strength and tenacity that had helped keep him alive during the most difficult of times. He had seen and experienced things that few could ever imagine and survival meant being constantly on guard–taking nothing, absolutely nothing, for granted. Although those horrific days have long since passed, he continued to feel ill at ease whenever finding himself in new and unfamiliar surroundings. Such indeed was the case today during this initial visit to the ear doctor’s office. Noting that all seemed to be quiet and in proper order, he took a deep breath, cautiously moved inward, and, as instructed, sat himself down on the waiting chair.

“Doctor, something tells me that you are a religious person. Are you orthodox by any chance?” he inquired just as I made my way into the room.

Hardly a question I would have expected from a first-time patient. It was the tone of his voice, however, laced with an equal mix of criticism and bewilderment, that caught me off guard. Sitting here before me, I thought, is a patient unlike any I had encountered before. Very few individuals would take the liberty to speak in this manner, especially before formal introductions were made and a doctor-patient relationship established. I could not think of any other patient or acquaintance, for that matter, with the temerity to ask such a question before meeting someone for the very first time. Yes, he certainly was different and only later on would I learn how remarkably different.

“Well, tell me, doctor, am I right? Are you religious?”

Not knowing how to respond to his persistent questioning, I quickly organized my thoughts and replied, “What is it exactly that makes you say that?”

Grinning proudly, he answered, “Well, every room in this office has a mezuzah, and not a one is covered with any paint. That tells me that the mezuzahs are routinely removed and probably checked every so often. Only religious people would bother doing such a thing. Isn’t that so doctor? Isn’t that what religious people would normally do?”

I nodded in silence, uncertain as to where this was all heading.

“What brings you here today? What seems to be the problem?”

“Oh nothing too bad,” he began.  “Just some ringing in my ears and I think my hearing may not be as sharp as it used to be.”

His distinctive accent, animated expressions and mannerisms were remarkably similar to what I had been exposed to while growing up. “I see you come from central Poland,” I remarked while removing a hefty amount of wax from his right ear.

But before I had a chance to attend to his left ear, he  turned abruptly in my direction. His face now sported a wide quizzical smile accentuated by the glitter of a solitary gold tooth.

“You are absolutely correct,” he exclaimed somewhat begrudgingly.  “But how could you possibly know? What tells you that I was raised in central Poland?”

It felt as though we were playing a long and difficult game of tennis and I had finally succeeded in gaining the advantage.

“My parents were also from central Poland, and they spoke with the same accent and often used the same expressions as you.”

In short order, we compared notes, discussed wartime experiences, and soon discovered that both he and my father were prisoners in the Flossenburg concentration camp. They were both liberated by American forces while on the same death march. For the first time since entering the office, he was at a loss for words. Just as the word ‘Mister’ left my lips, and before I could even mention his family name, I was cut short and reprimanded.

“By the way, doctor, from here on in, I want you to call me David. We have a lot in common, you and I. You must call me David.”

I had completely lost track of time. The door to the examination room suddenly opened and my receptionist entered advising me that a number of patients were still waiting to be seen and were beginning to complain about the long wait.

“Mr. …, I mean David, we have to end at this point. Forgive me but there are others waiting. Perhaps we can continue our conversation at a later time?”

He rose, took my hand, and declared, “I will be back doctor. I promise you I will be back.”  David was to  keep his promise in more ways than one can imagine.

There were times when David made appointments much like any other patient, but on other occasions he would arrive unannounced, usually when I was just about ready to leave for home.  During these latter visits, there would be a firm knock on the door and there stood David stating that he came to talk.

“We must talk. So few people want to listen. Nobody wants to hear about our lives back in Poland. No one wants to know what happened to us during the war. But I sense you have an interest in hearing about all that we Jews were forced to endure during that dark bleak period in our history.”

Well, David pushed the right button, and we spent many hours discussing his personal experiences during the Holocaust, Jewish life in Poland, and his views on religion.

He spoke emotionally of his family back in Poland, all of whom were strictly observant, God-fearing Jews. “How could it be that they all perished and I alone survived?” he would occasionally whisper when lost in thought. Although he had long since strayed from organized religion, David loved to describe Jewish customs and tradition in great detail. He spoke tenderly of a way of life that suddenly was no more, a life that had gone up in smoke along with the victims.

After an hour or so of conversation, he would check his wristwatch, finish his sentence, and then declare, “I’m sure you have had a long day and want to get home to your family so we will end here.”

In spite of the late hour, I knew only too well that he wanted to stay longer, but in spite of my best efforts I could no longer conceal my impatience. On many an occasion, he would call me either at the office or at home asking if I had a minute or two to spare. There was something that he wanted to share–a story, a thought, or perhaps a recollection. Once he began, he found it difficult to stop. He had a mission to complete, and complete it he would.

During one particular office visit, David entered excitedly and informed me that in six weeks he would be returning to Germany. “I have been working with some German officials about commemorating the death march we spoke about earlier. A number of survivors along with family members will be going back to revisit the route by marching from the camp to where we were finally liberated. Doctor, I think it would be worthwhile if you were to come along and see firsthand where your father spent the last months of the war. Come with us to Germany. There are a number of survivors who are returning with their wives and children and wish to retrace the death march perhaps for the last time. You will be able to speak to people who may remember your father. And, by the way, don’t worry. There will be plenty of kosher food. As a matter of fact the inn where we will all be staying is to be entirely kosher. Many of us are no longer religious but keeping kosher would be the proper thing to do while in Germany.” How could I possibly say no?

It is difficult to describe the survivors’ reactions as they retraced their steps as free men. Some would stop at particular locations revealing all that had transpired at one site or another. Talk of death and suffering permeated every discussion. There were some, however, who remained silent–their teary eyes making it clear to all that certain recollections were to be kept within.

We paid homage to those who died while on the march stopping at a number of makeshift burial sites where nameless corpses were laid to rest soon after liberation. The haunting words of the Kaddish could be heard at each stop. This special prayer for the dead was recited in unison by the entire group. It mattered little whether one had forsaken religion or still happened to observe. The words of the Kaddish touched everyone’s heart and literally singed our souls. Thanks to David, I had the opportunity to visit the camp where my father had been brutalized and tormented. At the end of the march, I stood at the place where he had likely been liberated, rubbing his eyes in disbelief as American servicemen fast approached. And for that I shall forever be indebted to David.

David was always on a mission of some sort traveling back and forth to Poland and Germany, either seeking to right a wrong or fighting to keep the few remaining vestiges of Jewish life from disappearing.  He would arrive at the office seeking medical advice or simply wanting to sit down and talk for a while. David’s visits were becoming somewhat less frequent and I assumed he was involved in some new Holocaust related venture. And then sadly, two days before Christmas, I received a phone call from a friend of David’s family informing me of his death. Apart from the day, time and place, no other details were given. I rearranged my schedule and set out for Manhattan in the early morning hours on Christmas eve.

I approached the rabbi who had officiated at the service and asked who would be saying the Kaddish for David during the next twelve months.

“I’m not certain,” declared the Rabbi. “I did not know him very well. There are no sons and I know of no one in the family who is likely to do so.”

I remembered the very first time I met David and how curious he had been about my religious observance. What is there to think about, I thought. Before the Rabbi could offer a solution, I immediately volunteered to say the Kaddish. Given the choice, David would have preferred that  the Kaddish be recited by someone with a familiar face and an appreciation of all that he had endured during the Holocaust.  And so I say the Kaddish every day.

Just as I begin to recite the prayer, I sense David’s presence and can make out the defining features of his face. His customary smirk has now been replaced by a soft appreciative smile.  David seems finally at peace.

Sheldon P. Hersh, an Ear, Nose and Throat Physician with a practice in the New York metropolitan area, is the author of Our Frozen Tears(http://tinyurl.com/kuzlscb), as well as the co-author of The Bugs Are Burning, a book on the Holocaust.

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Glorified and Sanctified

byVan Wallach (Westport, CT)

Recently I heard about the death of a woman I once knew named Adina. She had been one of the very first women I dated after moving to New York in 1980. I found a paid death notice in a newspaper from several years back, saying she succumbed to diabetes and breast cancer. She was fifty-one—younger than I am now.

Adina and I had a tumultuous relationship, thanks to our wildly different social backgrounds and degrees of sophistication: suburban Long Island versus small-town Texas, intense Jewish education versus no Jewish education. Still, we had a connection: we were writers and Jewish and on the prowl. Adina played an influential role in my life at the time.

Our shared practice of Judaism provided many of my favorite memories of our times together. We joined her friends to hear Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach sing during Purim at B’nai Jeshurun on the Upper West Side, a favored hunting ground for singles. I attended a seder with her family on Long Island on the snowy Passover of April 1982. With Adina’s encouragement, I visited Israel in May 1982 and wrote about the experience for the Forward newspaper.

The little markers of memory accumulated over the months. I have photos of Adina at B’nai Jeshurun and with her friends Rena, Rochel and Marilyn. She sent me postcards from her trips to Israel and Peru. We called each other “Y.D.,” short for “Yiddish dumpling.”

For what turned out to be our last date, I stunned Adina with tickets to what I called “Bereshit,” the Hebrew name for the book of Genesis—we saw her favorite music group, Phil Collins and Genesis, perform at Forest Hills Stadium in August 1982. That was the end. She called it quits after that.

Other relationships would follow, but as time passed I thought fondly of Adina. We parted in frustration, not anger. Four years later, on a rainy evening on the Upper West Side, we ran into each other again. We immediately had a long catch-up coffee klatch in a diner. Adina had left journalism to study social work, while I was several years into a stint as a globe-trotting freelance writer. Freed from the anxieties of stillborn romance, we shared a warmth and were happy to see each other.

“Don’t be a stranger,” she said in her distinctive, cigarette-raspy voice.

We never saw each other again. The next year I met the woman I would marry. The new flame burned bright and I fed it all the oxygen I had. Old flames flickered and went out.

Long after my divorce in the new millennium, I became curious about Adina and uncovered the death notice. I mentally overlaid my life on top of her last years and wondered what type of friendship, if any, would have resulted from contact. Maybe nothing, but I like to think we would have stayed connected this time as friends with common interests in Judaism, journalism, travels to Latin America and, well, life. I had changed since we dated—becoming more at ease with myself, more Jewishly literate, comfortable in groups. In any case, I found myself aching and sorry that we had had no contact for those last twenty years. I never had a chance to say goodbye to Adina.

That’s one missed farewell in a digital world that logs birth and death regularly. I would never have known about Adina’s passing without the Internet. Online, the once-hidden and unfindable becomes common, jolting knowledge. Through Facebook, I read daily about the illnesses of friends’ families, with prayer requests and mentions of deaths of parents, siblings and, most grievously, children. On Facebook, I learned that the son of one friend from Mission, Texas, for example, was killed in Afghanistan, bringing the war to me in a terribly personal way. We’re in our fifties and older; passings happen and the pace quickens with age.

I learned about Adina’s passing at the exact same time I was experiencing something entirely new in my Jewish life—a shiva call to a house of mourning. I had attended Jewish weddings and funerals, but had never visited a family sitting shiva, or mourning of a death.

“Not even your grandparents?” somebody asked after I mentioned this anomaly.

“No, not even my grandparents,” I said.

But a death occurred in a family close to me, an uncle of my girlfriend, and I wanted to pay my respects. I had no idea what to expect, although I knew of the traditional rituals of covering mirrors and tearing clothes.

So I visited some people I knew, the relatives of the elderly man who had died. I gave them my condolences. Some wore small black ribbons. I recognized the rabbi who conducted the service, which consisted of prayers I had heard many times before and could read and mostly say in Hebrew. This included the Mourner’s Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. This prayer does not mention death but rather magnifies and sanctifies the Name of God. It begins,

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

As I looked around the room, I thought about how ancient tradition and ritual created such emotional support at a time of ultimate loss. People are not left to flail on their own in the darkness; they—we—have a way to mourn that links them to generations past and future.

The moment seemed right and as we prayed I said the Kaddish for my late friend. I had finally found a way to say goodbye to Adina, Y.D.

Van “Ze’ev” Wallach, native of Mission, Texas, writes frequently on religion, politics and other matters. His interests include travel, digital photography, world music and blogging, which he does at http://wallach.coffeetown.press. This essay is reprinted from A Kosher Dating Odyssey: One Former Texas Baptist’s Quest for a Naughty & Nice Jewish Girl by Van Wallach (Coffeetown Press), with the kind permission of the publisher and the author. For more information about the book, visit: http://coffeetownpress.com/

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Rosh Hashanah: The First Without My Father

by Jane Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

I hadn’t been with my parents for decades
at their synagogue (in a church,
with Love Never Faileth on the wall above the bimah,
and their newish Jewish Japanese rabbi),
but I always knew we’d speak
to wish each other a Happy New Year
and, like they’ve done at every event around the calendar,
they’d wish me good health, and whatever my heart desired
(which, I have to tell you, hasn’t happened).

But this year, with my father gone,
I felt him with me:
Singing, jumping up and down octaves to stay on key,
drifting off, and back on, during the sermon,
and, most of all, holding my hand
when I stood for the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania. She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.

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Wednesday the Rabbi Said Kaddish

by Pamela Jay Gottfried (Atlanta, GA)

Growing up, all I knew about the Kaddish was that it was recited by children whose parents were dead, thus I was absolutely forbidden from saying it.  An important tenet of folk religion –otherwise known as superstition– is that a child who recites Kaddish tempts the Angel of Death to take his or her parents from this earth.  Traveling the country and teaching, I have found this tradition to be universally known and observed by Jews.

During my second year in rabbinical school I studied the history of the Kaddish and its role in Jewish liturgy.  I was already aware that the words of the prayer had nothing to do with death, and that the person leading the recitation was in fact heaping praise upon God.  But I was surprised to learn that the origin of the Kaddish was not as a mourner’s prayer at all.  In its ancient formulation, as the Rabbi’s Kaddish or Kaddish d’Rabbanan, it was recited upon the conclusion of Torah study. The custom of mourners saying Kaddish arose centuries later.

It was in Rabbi Joel Roth’s classroom that I abandoned my attachment to superstitions about not saying the Kaddish and allowed the prayer to assert its primacy in my daily life. Like his colleagues in the Talmud & Rabbinics department, Rabbi Roth followed a pedagogic approach to the text that included calling upon the students to read, translate and explain passages without warning. This somewhat intimidating practice ensured that no student would attend class unprepared.  Every class period was effectively a pop quiz, at least for the students called upon to read that day.  It was also an opportunity for individual students to demonstrate their progress, which Rabbi Roth both encouraged and rewarded.

Toward the end of every 90-minute class, before we closed our volumes of Talmud, Rabbi Roth would take a laminated sheet from his desk and hand it to the student who “stood out” that day from among the group.  Then we all stood together to recite the Rabbi’s Kaddish. When this privilege, an invitation to lead the prayer, was bestowed upon me for the first time that semester, my heart rejoiced.  I felt my praises of God’s name rise up to join the chorus of angels in heaven.  I still remember how I felt that morning, nearly half a lifetime ago.

These days, I attend a weekly Torah study at my doctor’s office. It is comprised of adult learners who are professionals in other fields. As a rabbi and the assigned facilitator, I am often the only one present who has prepared the text prior to class.  Usually other members of the group volunteer to read aloud from the text, ask questions about the translations and commentaries, and readily offer their own interpretations of the material.  At a well-attended session, six to eight friends sit around a conference table, enjoying coffee and snacks with Torah study and conversation.  This past Wednesday, however, our host spent half the class moving chairs from every exam room into the break room.  At the end of the hour I realized that we had a minyan – the quorum needed to say the Rabbi’s Kaddish.  We quickly ascertained which direction was east, and I scrolled through the prayer book on my iPhone to find the words, fondly recalling Rabbi Roth’s laminated sheet.  My heart sang as the chorus of students stood with me to praise God’s name.

Pamela Jay Gottfried is a rabbi, parent, teacher, artist, and the author of Found in Translation: Common Words of Uncommon Wisdom.  A New York City native and graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Gottfried teaches students of all ages in churches, colleges, community centers, schools, and synagogues. She strives for balance in her life by spending as much time writing at the computer as she does working at the pottery wheel.

You can read more of her work on her blog, Pamela’s Pekele (http://rabbipjg.blogspot.com/), where this piece first appeared. It’s reprinted here with the author’s kind permission.

And for more information about Gottfried, visit her website: http://www.pamelagottfried.com/

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Tuesdays, With Minyan

by Mali Schantz-Feld (Seminole, FL)

Minyans were for the men of my family during my childhood in Brooklyn, NY more years ago than I would like to confess. Decades later, at an egalitarian Conservative synagogue in St. Petersburg, Florida, my daughter was invited to read from the Torah at Thursday morning minyan before her Bat Mitzvah. A few years later, for my son’s Bar Mitzvah, the scenario was a bit different. I kvelled over his beautiful voice chanting his Torah portion, but, later in the service, I chanted Kaddish for my mother, who had suddenly passed away. A celebration of life, a comfort in death, I felt her presence, along with a connection to the others in the small group and to my heritage.

Fast forward three years: Rosh Hashanah, a time for resolutions. A plea from the bima floated from the speaker’s mouth and rested on my shoulders. Although only ten people were needed to  recite Kaddish, read Torah and other prayers, often, attendance was less than ten. So, adding to my Jewish New Year’s resolution to exercise more, I resolved to get my soul in shape along with my body by attending Tuesday morning minyan.

I was nervous. The “regulars” could daven in Hebrew faster than I could keep up in English. Grabbing on to a word here and there, and depending on the kindness of strangers to point out the place, I looked around at the small band of “minyanaires.” A 90-year-old, with a European accent and white hair reminiscent of my grandfather’s, read from the siddur words that obviously had been etched in his mind years ago. A variety of people stopped by before starting their day’s business—lawyers and doctors removed their suit jackets to put on their tefillin, chatting about the latest stock market news one minute, engrossed in prayer the next; men in jeans;  women, some in running suits and others dressed for success; out-of-towners and members of other congregations. Anyone with a few spare minutes was encouraged to stay for coffee and a bagel afterward.

After a while the Hebrew words and familiar faces became my friends—seniors with their mischievous smiles and ready jokes; the accountant and handyman who kept everyone on the right page; the woman who lost her husband to cancer at a time in life when they should have been enjoying empty-nest syndrome together. Someone volunteered to recite Kaddish for a previous “Minyan-keeper,” a poet, with a gray beard and leprechaun-like stature who unlocked the chapel doors and announced pages for so many years. The regulars dedicated the chapel’s eternal light in his name so his inspiration would preside over the minyans indefinitely.

At the minyan, not all come to say Kaddish. But all come to start the day with thankfulness, integrity, faith and love of Torah. It’s tough to drag myself out from under cozy blankets to arrive at the synagogue at 7:45 a.m. But when I see the smiles on the other nine faces, knowing that  I’m the one who makes the minyan complete, I really feel like a “perfect 10.”

Mali Schantz-Feld, a professional writer for twenty years, has written on topics ranging from medical breakthroughs to the national economy. She has won writing awards from the Florida Magazine Association, the Florida Freelance Writers Association, and the national Jesse H. Neal Award for Editorial Excellence. She loves sharing the warmth and significance of Jewish traditions and heritage with family and friends.

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