Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last kaddish in Israel

My last kaddish in Israel was, appropriately, at the Ben Gurion airport. Our flight didn't leave until 10:30 a.m., so I thought I might be able to daven at the 6:30 minyan near my cousin's home which ends promptly at 7:00, then get a sherut (taxi service) to the airport at 7:15. I asked the taxi service for a 7:15 pickup to which they responded (in Hebrew), "be ready by 6:45." I said "7:15," they replied, "6:45." 6:45 it was.

There is a synagogue at the Ben Gurion airport which you can find after passing through security and passport control. I got there around 9:00 a.m. People were davening, but individually, not in a minyan. That wasn't going to help me say kaddish. Just then, a group of American teens came in. Turns out they were returning home from one of the Orthodox summer tours in Israel. I joined their minyan which proceeded slowly. I had the feeling most of these teens had stayed up all night celebrating their last day in Israel. Many of them dozed. During the Torah reading, I asked the group leader, who was doing his best to infuse the prayer service with kavanna (proper intention) if I could take over leading the davening after the Torah reading. I don't think these teens were expected a mourner in their midst. Still, I led the prayers to their conclusion with the kaddishes that conclude the service.

As I've written earlier, there are kaddishes and then there are kaddishes. (http://mykaddishyear.blogspot.com/2012/03/kaddish-with-and-without-tears.html) These were not the normal kaddishes, said without much feeling or thought. With these kaddishes, I was saying goodbye to Israel, and more, to some part of my mother, some aspect of her whose spirit resides in Israel. For the first time in months, I felt some connection with her, a connection whose path is signaled by tears.

The gap between what was in my mind and the minds of these teens could not have been wider. No matter. They were my agents in sanctifying the spirit of my mother.

Through the miracle of air travel, I returned home the same afternoon and went to my local shul to pray the afternoon and evening services. Like normal.

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