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Yizkor Service

Please follow along with Rabbi Ettman and Cantor Franzel using the pages below.

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A Yizkor Message From Cantor Jordan Franzel

Maybe you’ve heard the bubbe maisah (old wives tales) that if you stay for the Yizkor service on Yom Kippur, and your parents are still alive, you would bring certain doom to the two people that brought you into this world. This is a very disturbing idea, that one has such power that they can bring the angel of death to the earthly realm just by staying in a room. This is the cause of what many Jewish clergy call, “the Mass Exodus.” It is called an exodus or escape because that is exactly what happens immediately after the Afternoon Service has reached its conclusion. Just as the last notes of Oseh Shalom (or any transitional music) start to dissipate more than half the room has left.

This exodus, in a positive way, creates a more intimate mood. People move closer to the clergy. The speakers in the room behind the moveable wall are turned off. The cavernous feeling of the social hall is diminished. And the service that follows is, in every way, as beautiful and moving as any of the High Holiday services. In addition to the Day of Atonement, there are Yizkor services at the end of all three of our festivals, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. This is because Yizkor touches the heart. It is Judaism’s answer to the request that we can spend just a few minutes with our deceased beloved. Isn’t that what a service of memorial should be like? To wrap oneself in the memories, the crying and the laughing, of those whom we miss?

We long to be with our loved ones who have left this life and our tradition has virtual visitations that occur more times during the year than only on Yom Kippur. And this is what the Yizkor service does: Through beautiful poetry, scripture, and song Yizkor has the ability to keep our loved ones alive in our very being. When we honor the dead we are keeping their higher values and wisdom alive. We embody that which is most dear to us from those who still live in our minds and hearts.

Many of us knew someone who has departed. Some were family, close friends, and those that inspired our earlier days. By experiencing a Yizkor service we not only connect with our memories of those who have passed, we connect with their spiritual, positive traits and bring them into this material world. Ultimately this contributes to Judaism’s goal, to bring healing to a broken world. In other words, we need you. We need your memories, we need positive vibrations to flood earth with goodness and decency. We need to keep the dead alive for they certainly are alive in our thoughts and even dreams.

Of course we can choose to remember the deceased every day if we want. Why should we come to the synagogue for something we can do while sitting in our homes? Because there is strength in numbers. Our tradition teaches that prayers recited within the context of community have a greater impact. Some of can speak to experiences where meditating, praying, or singing in a group has had a profound affect in our lives. This is the reason for Yizkor, which means, “to remember.” Yizkor contributes to our true mission, to correct what is wrong in the universe and to make it better. Through Yizkor we also, as individuals, become better.

Of course we want to see your physical presence, but we understand the obstacles and impediments to actually getting into our sanctuary. We want you to experience for yourself the potential power of Yizkor. Please watch our virtual Yizkor service, created for Congregation Or Ami. Perhaps if we all choose to remember in this way, we can collectively make our community stronger and feel closer to those whom we love, whether they are living or not.

Chag Sameiach - Happy Holiday

Wed, October 5 2022 10 Tishrei 5783