It seems to me that one of the important characteristics that distinguish humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is that we have well-developed memories. We remember the details of people and events throughout our lives. We have several layers of memory. All humans have certain memories in common. The Jewish nation has a vast body of shared experiences. We have certain memories as a community in our hometown. As members of KI we share a body of memories and there are the memories that are part of each of our families. At the core of it all are the potent and perhaps dearest memories of all that we have with our immediate families.
Now we come to the Yizkor service. One of the four synagogue prayer services held during the year when we publicly in prayer address these memories. At Yizkor a Jew remembers those who died for the glory of G-d (Kidush Hashem) and those who heroically died for our nation. We also remember close and not so close relatives and friends and say a prayer for them. I want to tell you of two incidents that come to mind in this spirit.
Our Rebbetzsin emeritus, Mrs. Esther Rosenblatt, told me of the wedding of her granddaughter which she attended last Sunday. Among the decorations was the personal tallit of the late Rabbi Rosenblatt, a fmaily treasure. The tallit was festooned with pictures and remarks of the Rabbi. This tallit was sentimentally displayed on one wall for all the guests to see and then, at the time of the ceremony, was worn by the officiating Rabbi. Similarly, the groom wore the cherished tallit of his deceased great grandfather. The chupah, or wedding canopy, was decorated with family pictures and sayings from both sets of parents and grandparents. The most beautiful feeling was the respect of the memories of the ancestors at the marriage of this bride and groom.
Another incident that comes to my mind was at the wedding of the sweet daughter of a good friend and mentor of mine, Rabbi Admoni, who is head of the Yemenite-Jewish community. In accordance with their custom, the bride and groom each went to their respective parents before the ceremony to receive permission to marry and the parental blessing. Again, there was the feeling of the ancestors, one generation to another having a strong effect on events.
These two stories demonstrate that as people move through their lives remembering the past and their loved ones. They build their future lives in part on these memories. Today, we are very much involved with our memories as Jews as well as members of families. At this time, we remember the giving of the Torah, the Book of Ruth as well as we remember those who have departed this world. These memories are somewhat like when you hear from a friend or relative that you have not heard from for a long time. There is a joy in recalling the relationship and the joys you shared with that person.
So it is with recalling the memories of our beloved departed. We know that we love them and their memories. We also know that they loved us and wanted only the best for us. We remember them with love and good feeling. We know that they would not want to cause us sadness and pain. So, think of your departed in a positive and even happy way. You may be a little sad that they are no longer among us but rejoice and be happy in the joys you experienced with them.
In the name of our dearly departed, may G-d reward each of us with the blessing of a good and happy life as we all rise to say the Yizkor prayer.