There are many Jewish customs intended to honor deceased family members and to help those living to cope with the loss. Judaism focuses on the living. This week was the English date yahrtzeit of my mother; the yahrtzeit for the Hebrew calendar was a week ago. I lit candles on both the English and Hebrew dates.
It is one of the ways we keep the memory of the loved one in our hearts and in our minds.
I remember my mother lighting candles for her mother and because she didn’t remember the exact date her mother died, she knew it was the first night of Passover so she lit it every year on the first night of Passover.
Why do we do these things? For one they are comforting. It gives us something to “do” and we carry along a tradition of remembering loved ones. When I looked at the lit yahrtzeit candle the other day, I felt as though my beloved mother was bringing light into my life and into the world. It makes me reflect on the importance and meaning of her life and its profound and wonderful impact on me. It makes me feel good to do this.
One of the things that I love about Jewish traditions is that we are a community in which we share many of these customs. It gives us a basis of connection and for me, it is a connection not only with Jewish people but with generations past of Jews who have done the exact same things.
When I marry a couple or name their baby, I am doing something that generations of Jews before me have done. Even though we personalize each and every Jewish and interfaith wedding, just standing under the chuppah with a couple about to marry, is a continuation of a tradition that is thousands of years old.
TRADITON!! Create a new one or bring one forward! Rabbi Marsha