Journal entry by Eve Ilsen — 26 minutes ago
Yom Kippur was full and rich, and a bit disorienting as I ran from Bonai Shalom's services (Conservative) at the new JCC, to Nevei Kodesh (Jewish Renewal) at the Unity Church to conduct Yizkor, and back. Also, today was Boulder's real Change of Weather: I ran home in between to put less "shul-appropriate" but much warmer clothing on. It is suddenly truly Autumn, and chill.
I was very happy to have been invited to lead Yizkor, the memorial service, because I had long wanted to give over what I experienced the first time I had to say Yizkor just after my adoptive father died: that Yom Kippur, at Fellowship House Farm, Zalman asked us to find a partner, and ask them to "stand in" for the one for whom we were saying Kaddish, and to tell them all we have wanted to share---and then to switch, and be the stand-in for our partner.
I hope it was half as powerful for today's participants at Nevei Kodesh as it had been for me then.
And oh, I miss Zalman so very much, when I think of what a master he was at improvising ceremony and ritual so that it was utterly spontaneous while staying perfectly true to the core intent and internal form of the ritual.
It is powerful, this business of being sent out of the worship-space on Yom Kippur when we are children, or later when we still have both our parents. The mystery, we discover later, is the shared experience of irreplaceable loss and grief, which we don't want to share with those still innocent of those feelings. Yizkor service is the place and time we can wail, and everyone in the room will understand.
I have never forgotten that first Yizkor in the barn at Fellowship House Farm just after Sam, my adoptive father, had died---although I do not remember a word we said. I paired with an old friend: I had known his father, and he had met Sam.
I have not been able to speak to anyone standing in for my mother, or for Zalman.
But sometimes I write them letters in my journal, or in my head.
We crossed the street after Ne'ilah and broke the fast together at the shul.
For all of Yom Kippur the Jewish Community Center had been guarded by the sheriff and police officers, and two of them were with us at the shul as we ate---I was thankful for their presence, and sad that it was necessary and wise. That tension was somewhat resolved by discovering that when he is not on duty, one of the security guards is a stand-up comic.
May it be a good year for us all.