Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yizkor: to stay or not to stay?

My first Yizkor is in two days.  Yizkor is a remembrance service.  Traditionally only those who have lost a parent stay for Yizkor.  Everyone else leaves the sanctuary.  I used to.  After my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I was so happy to leave, knowing that the time would come when I'd have to stay.  That time is coming on the last day of Passover.  Then my brother mentioned that some say that an avel (in the first year of mourning) does not stay.  So I called my Rabbi.  He said I should stay, and that the custom of leaving arose out of a sense, no longer considered accurate, that Yizkor might be too overwhelming when loss is so recent.  I called a friend who told me that a different Rabbi had told him that the original reason an avel does not say Yizkor is that the mourner might become too overwhelmed by the grief of others, but that, in this day and age, public grief is not as intense as it used to be.  So the Rabbi suggested he stay for Yizkor, which he did, he had a good cry, and felt better afterward.  And so I will stay, think of my mother, maybe cry, and be counted among the community of others who no longer have both their parents.

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