Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Yesterday evening I showed up at a minyan in White Plains to fulfill my Kaddish obligation and get my son to his orthodontist appointment. I was aided by a great web site, godaven.com, which lists minyanim (prayer services) all over the country (world?). What I encountered was a Kaddish minyan, a minyan which seemed to exist for the purpose of providing a place to say Kaddish. How's that? At an average prayer service, I'd estimate maybe 3 to 5% of adults at any one time are saying Kaddish. The percentage rises because Kaddish-sayers are more likely to attend public prayer than other Jews. At the minyan I usually attend, the percentage of Kaddish-sayers is about 10%. The 90% provide support for those saying Kaddish, a support I feel most strongly when they respond during the Kaddish, "ya'ha shmei rabba mivorach l'alem u'liolmei olmaya (may his great name be blessed forever and ever)." At the service I attended yesterday, half the people present were saying Kaddish. It felt strange and a bit unnatural. Ideally, those who are experiencing loss need to feel supported, not the other way around.