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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

It's All About The Excuses

Mom is gone and saying kaddish looms (maybe that is not the right sounds so negative) for the year to come. Since dad passed and I said kaddish for him I have occasionally drifted to the thought that someday mom would pass and I would begin to say kaddish again. Saying kaddish for dad was a special and intense experience. I made time to go every day and the quiet moments during Shacharit gave me time to reflect on various prayers. Saying kaddish kept the thoughts of my dad front and center for an entire extra year. (more on that later)

Since finishing kaddish for dad I have only gone to synagogue occasionally. I go here and I go there or more likely, I don't go at all. Why don't I go?

List of excuses: ( I could go on with excuses for a long time, but will try to curtail them in a reasonable way)

I value my Shabbat mornings tremendously.

I enjoy the quiet. I like the ability to go through the house and choose what I want to do, whether it is reading or walking or straightening up or wandering into my messy garden and sitting on a tree stump.

I have a great talent of inventing things to do in my house on Shabbat mornings. It's amazing how my eyes can see things to do on Shabbat morning that they magically pass over all week long...Cookbooks to look at, things on the floor to pick up, piles of books to read (or at least contemplate reading) and organizing anything in my field of vision.

For years I worked at synagogues and before that I taught at Jewish schools. I was exhausted by the time Shabbat came around and work loomed large on Sundays. It was a peaceful day to stay home. It was great to have the morning to myself. I jealously guarded the time and meticulously calculated the hours that synagogue plus kiddush plus walking back and forth would cost me in time. Saving all that time mostly won and I would stay home....feeling more than a little guilty.

Every week that I don't go to synagogue, I debate in my mind the issue that no synagogue is ever the right fit for me. It's always something, a mechitzah that is too high or too opaque, the crowds are too big or there aren't enough people. I live in a town where there are multiple synagogues. Any type of service that I want is well within walking distance or biking distance from my house, so no excuses are acceptable. That being said, I hate being in crowds of people. I am socially so awkward, never knowing how to comfortably made conversation with people so I shy away. It's easier to stay home where I don't have to deal with the many things that bother me about synagogue. In my heart I know that the issue has less to do with the synagogues and my own discomfort at committing to a community that works for me.

Well, no more excuses are acceptable. Mom is gone. Mom deserves the kaddish. Mom needs my kaddish, I want the best for mom's neshama, the same way that I wanted for mom's well being while she was alive. Here comes the push, here come the early mornings, here comes Shacharit, Mincha, Ma'ariv. Here comes the Amidah, Tehilim, Shema and its blessings and here comes the kaddish. I welcome it as a challenge. I embrace it as a daughter and I hope that my words grow wings and mom's soul is elevated all through the year.

Mom, I am glad that you will still be with me for the next eleven months. It is comforting to me.

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1 Comment

Mar 11, 2020

Beautifully written blog posts. You express feelings with the elegant power of simplicity, and then elevate them with thoughts. You wrote, "I am socially so awkward, never knowing how to comfortably made conversation with people so I shy away." Perhaps you shy away, but any awkwardness is covered in a cloak of encouragement, support, positivity, and thoughtful, engaging, warmth. Beautiful! Dawny

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