Yizkor: Remembering

1. Select some photographs of those who have passed on in your family and personal life.

2. Set up a tray of water (for safety) in which you will place thick white memorial candles which are sold in glasses for each first degree relative who has died during your life time. (Siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, some also include grand parents and dear friends.) Candles which will burn for a full day are sold in Jewish specialty stores for this purpose.

3. Set the photos out around the tray.

4. The evening when Yom Kippur begins is known as Erev Yom Kippur. (Erev means "evening" and Jewish days begin at sunset) At this time, gather your family to light yarzeit, "memorial", candles for each first degree relative who has died during your life time.

5. After lighting, give one of the photos to each of your children, or your nieces/nephews, or students, or someone you are mentoring. (I suggest that it be a copy of the original, or placed in a protective covering). If you are able to, share a story about the life of that person at this time, something that really conveys his/her meaning in your life.

6. If the children knew the person, they might have stories to share too. Invite their questions, share your feelings and invite them to express theirs. Let them know it is a great thing to remember loved ones, that sad feelings often exist along with happy and difficult memories. That to honor and remember a soul in this way is a precious part of being Jewish.

7. Ask the youth to join you in honoring the memory of the persons whose photo they are holding by attending the Yizkor service on Yom Kippur day. You might choose to also include historical figures such as Hannah Senesh or Anne Frank. When these children have their turn come to experience a palpable, personal loss, you will have taught them how to begin to derive support from these deep traditions.

Remember to write names and dates on all those picture, identify yourself, as well. Someday someone may be remembering you.