Kaddish Review

By Evelyn Pockrass Kaddish: Womens Voices

Jewish mourning rituals affect survivors for the remainder of their lives. We remember loved ones in prescribed ways during the first year after their passing and in special ways hereafter…

Kaddish: Women’s Voices edited by Michal Smart and conceived by Barbara Ashkenas, gathers more than fifty short essays by women (mainly Modern Orthodox) about their experiences during the first year after a close relative has died. When a parent dies, part of the traditional observance required of men for eleven months is to attend services three times daily, during which the Kaddish (from the root meaning “holy”) prayer is recited.

Some Orthodox synagogues accept the participation of women in this ritual. The stories in Kaddish reflect the contributor’s experiences, both positive and negative, in carrying out the ritual. Some of he women endued poor treatment and other hardships, but saying Kaddish was nevertheless a great source of comfort and healing for all.

The volume’s layout is appealing; there are twelve chapters, each beginning with a part of the Kaddish prayer (in Aramaic and Hebrew) and a poem in English. Kaddish won a 2013 National Jewish Book Award.

This review appeared in the third issue of Church and Synagogue Library Association’s congregational libraries today.

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