Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solo Kaddish

This morning at the Sabbath services, I was, to my surprise, the only person saying kaddish.  When services began, there were about 30 men.  The first kaddish is the "Rabbi's Kaddish" that follows "Rabbi Yishmael Omer", a reading about the hermeneutical principles of Talmudic exegeses.  It comes about five minutes into the prayer service.  After the Shaliach Tzibur (prayer leader) recited aloud the end of this reading, there was silence while the congregants waited for voices to utter the words of kaddish.  During that moment of silence, I realized I alone would be that voice.

There is a self-consciousness to being the only kaddish voice.  I'm naturally shy, so it's not easy being a lone voice among a crowd.  Of course, there is no option to stay silent.  No matter how self-conscious I might feel (and in the days when I first began going to shul after the shiva period was over, I was quite self-conscious), I must fulfill my duty to say kaddish.  That is my obligation to myself and my mother, and that is my role in the synagogue.

At the end of prayers nearly two hours later, the room had filled up to about 250.  The women's and men's sections were nearly filled. At the end of prayers there is a series of three kaddishes, the first coming after the Aleynu prayer.  I wondered whether, in the interim, another mourner had joined the congregation.  Again the moment came.  Again that moment of silence. And then my voice.  The Mourner's Kaddish.  Then another Rabbi's Kaddish.  Then a final Mourner's Kaddish.  Myself, alone, and my kaddish.

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