From Laughter to Tears

One of my most moving Chautauqua experiences was attending the Friday night Shabbat service near the Miller Bell Tower by the lake. Although the Chautauqua experience was a Methodist invention for training Sunday School teachers, the Institution is intentional about including all religions, and last week marked the dedication of a Jewish Life Center on the grounds.

Since I’m not Jewish myself and don’t read Hebrew, parts of the service were a challenge, but the closing lines of the Kaddish prayer, translated into English, were so beautiful that I want to share them here. I suspect their beauty and wisdom will bring a tear to anyone who is grieving. I know they did to me.

Kaddish Yatom

When I die, if you need to weep cry for someone walking the street beside you.

And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.

You can love me most by sharing your joy and multiplying your good deeds.

You can love me most by letting me live not in your mind but in your eyes.

And when you say Kaddish for me, remember what our Torah teaches.

Love doesn’t die. People do. So when all that’s left of me is love, give me away.

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