Where's The Meaning
Posted on 07/16/2013 @ 08:09 PM
I never used to stand during the mourner' s Kaddish. Growing up in a Conservative synagogue, those who stood only stood because they, themselves, were mourners. I muttered "amen" at the end and "barechu" throughout because that's what my mom did. But those who stood only stood because they experienced a tragedy.
So going to different synagogues for Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, I sat during the mourner's Kaddish. My friends stood because that's what tradition and custom had taught them, but if I wasn't mourning, I felt no meaning to the prayer.
I couldn't find it.
So I sat.
Last year, I observed Tisha B'av at Perlman Camp. One of the last days of Kallah, closure to my previous three weeks of discovering my Jewish identity was found in a day of looking at the past and future of the Jewish people. Tragedy and success were discussed. I fasted.
At the end of the day during the Mincha (or afternoon) service, the Rabbi suggested we stand during the mourner's Kaddish in remembrance of the destroyed temple. I stood.
After all, on that day I mourned.
While I stood, I realized that the destruction of the Temple wasn't personal to me in that moment, but that didn't mean it had no meaning; it still can have meaning to my people or to those close to me.
The tragedies that personally applied to me weren't the only ones that deserved to be stood for. They have their own meaning to me. While I didn't initially find it, it's always there.
So I stand. It's not what my Rabbi, congregation or mother does, but it's my interpretation of a part of Judaism. I found meaning.
This Tisha B'av was spent in Jafa. It started with a beautiful service in front of the Jerusalem skyline; a city whose decimation we were mourning–now illuminated.
Earlier in the day, I went to a discussion led by an Arab/Israeli couple. They talked about being Arab/Israelis, and how, although the Arabian man feared it, he couldnt help falling in love with his Jewish wife. They told us to try and find love and meaning in everything we do. Throughout the day, I fasted like I did at Kallah. But I didn't connect like I did at Kallah.
Later that day, I was talking to a staff member about how it seemed Iike fasting was particularly hard this year. He told me that if you're fasting correctly, it's not that hard.
"If you go in with the right intention, it heightens your senses," he told me, "You can block out the hunger by focusing on what you're doing. You just have to find the meaning behind the fast."
The meaning behind the fast. Behind standing during the mourner's Kaddish, behind finding your own interpretation of tradition, behind falling in love.
So now I drive back to the kibbutz, surrounded by my best friends. We're singing on the bus. The Jerusalem skyline fades to pink.
There can be meaning in everything. It just has to be found.
- Sofie Jacobs