Sunday, July 15, 2012

Solo kaddish, revisited

A little less than two months ago, I wrote about the self-consciousness that attends being the only person in shul saying kaddish.  Yesterday at Shabbat services, I again said kaddish alone.

In his book, Living a Year of Kaddish, Ari Goldman had a strong reaction against saying kaddish alone.  He describes a man whose mother died and began saying kaddish along with Goldman.  He writes: "I was sorry for Melvin's loss, but I was happy to have his company.  I was no longer the only mourner in the congregation. There's nothing worse than saying kaddish alone in shul.  You feel self-conscious and singled out in a way that gives new meaning to the term Kaddish Yatom, Mourner's [literally "Orphan's"] Kaddish.  When you say kaddish alone, you feel especially orphaned" (p. 99).

There are certainly many things worse than saying kaddish alone.   In fact, I no longer mind being the only person saying kaddish in shul.  Saying kaddish is such a natural part of my life, having done so every day for nearly eight months.  Even more, I now feel it's an honor to say kaddish alone, to stand for those whose world is no longer whole, to speak the words that announce to the community that there is at least one among them that is in pain.  "Yitgadal, v'yitkadash . . . "  I own these words now.  

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