Mornings, Mourning, Miscellany

I have become a morning person. I'm not sure when it happenened, but I'm going to guess somewhere withing the last week and a half. I wake up every morning, often at ungodly hours, jump out of bed, let out an epic yawn, and spring into shower action. I want breakfast (the good KB, for you Jewies out there [don't worry, if you're a Jewie, you know it])! I want to go to class! My first class is Ivrit, which I think I'm pretty good at. Then there's Jewish History, which I'm better at. It lasts three hours and it is the reason my day peaks a tad early. After that, it's downhill. Lunch, General Studies, homework, coma.


Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the passing of a very close family member of one the members of our EIE community, whom I will refer to as M, for Mourner. This yartzeit is common knowledge amongst us here and we all knew it was coming. In observance of this and in support of M we davened mincha (held an afternoon service) yesterday.

When we arrived at the Mourner's Kaddish, things got awkard. Normally, most people say the Kaddish. A few people (only two of us here that I know of) refrain from reciting Kaddish unless they are in mourning themselves. This is, however, a vast minority. Yet, this particular time, many people said Kaddish much more quietly than they ordinarily would have. Some whispered it, but many didn't say it all. To make matters worse, M, seated in the front row, became the center of attention. M was openly stared at by most people present. M was also the only person who said the Kaddish at a normal volume.

I was greatly troubled by this. Comforting the mourner is one thing; indeed it is called, in our wonderful *ahem* outgoing North American Reform siddur, Gates of Prayer, an Obligation Without Measure. Putting undue focus on a person already in emotional turmoil, however is not. It is not comfort. It is, in point of fact, discomfort!

I was very troubled by this.


I have just learned that according to Talmud, Alexander is the only non-Jewish name that one can be called to the Torah by because of how well Jews were treated under Alexander the Great. I have decided that based on this, my Jewish name shall no longer be simply David ben Tzvi v'Gilanah, but it shall now be David Alexander ben Tzvi v'Gilanah. This incorporates my English middle name.


Coming soon there will posts here perhaps about Reuven (perhaps not), perhaps about American Jews who have made aliyah (perhaps not), and perhaps about our impending trip to Mesada and Kibutz Lotan.


For regular notice by email about new posts on this blog email me at d.profound@gmail.com





David said...

Welcome to the morning community, it's great.

Welcome to the sad reality of deal with mourners. It sucks, always.

The GOP translation of "Eilu D'varim" fuses a mishna and section of gemara, and then ignores what the Hebrew is actually saying... that those things are great, but study of Torah is more important. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of things like l'va'at hamet, but let's be honest about what are texts teach.

Gilanah Shoshanah said...

Mornings still exist?

I'm glad to hear that you are piling on yet another additional name, says the woman who uses two names b'ivrit.

And, you know, we knew that about Alexander the Great; you were named for those two kings on purpose!

HW said...

The info about the name Alexander is most interesting. I had forgotten about that (yeah, I know you're surprised I forgot something.)

I understand your concern about your friend during kaddish. In traditional congregations only the mourners stand and say kaddish which always troubled me. It's as if we are calling attention to people in pain, not all of whom relish the attention.

Of course this new habit of being a morning person can only lead to ruin.

David A. M. Wilensky said...

So we can be clear about the current situation, I am in mourning too. I have been saying Kaddish for Ann Richards, the last proper Texas democrat.

the other wilensky said...

hey, it's my custom not to say mourner's kaddish, but i don't understand the inconsistency in the practice of those who chose not to say it at the volume they normally would. it's just....senseless.
jewish history is LIFE. take notes on every tiny detail because you will value that notebook above every material posession after EIE. annnnd post about reuvs! say hi to him and all the people that were on aviv 06. i missss itttt. oh, and drink an iced coffee for me. are you doing gadna when u go to metzada?

Brandon Kassof said...

i always put out the name of those who are forgoteen and such beacuse i like to say the mournier kaddish and it gives me a perpouis (wow thats bad spelling...) i mean im not saying i like people dieing (well... sometimes) i just think teh prayer should be said (personal) so i do that... it is very interesting that people whould lower the volume... hummm alexander... interesting... on a side note my sisters friends father is italian... no i dont remeber how they called him up (if they did at all i dont remeber or really care) but we always joked that it would be like (insert something fast and in hebrew cause thats how my cantor talks) pause... and richie farrel (cause tahts his name and it is not funny any more...) YAH TAHTS IT

Anonymous said...

hey. i didn't actually read that entry...buuut...why haven't you called me?!?! Hannah said she gave you my number...I'm a little disappointed...you're usually more punctual than this david wilensky. how do you expect to meet for coffee somewhere in the middle of israel if you never call me?! love.

lbk said...

The point of every religion is threefold: 1. to explain the inexplicable (e.g. why do bad things happen to good people?) 2. to provide a community in which children may be educated by adults whose moral and ethical values are compatible and 3. to provide a paradigm by which to mark and observe ubiquitous and/or cyclic life passages/events while supporting the individuals specifically affected.

Thus, the mourning ritual you describe strikes me as being an ideal religious observance. Because your particular community will be together for a total cycle of only 4 months, it is natural that your first communal participation in this experience will not proceed in a polished fashion. In a "full time" religious community death is a much more common occurrence and the participants will all have more common experience with the ritual.

So I do agree that this particular minyan may not have seemed particularly supportive to an observer. However, the value of the ritual lies in its place within the life-cycle of the community. In the furture, M will undoubtedly remember the presence of the individuals who joined the ritual of mourning, not the particulars of the experience.

Having said that, I suspect that I have lowered my voice in the same situation. It somehow feels more respectful to allow an individual mourner more intensity of expression, although the end-result may not be an increase in his or her comfort level.

OK, I think I have blathered on quite long enough. And I can't think of anything clever to say about mornings or Royal nomenclature.

Leslie Bass said...

I had no idea about that Alexander tidbit. Quite fascinating, actually.

Maybe when you come home we'll be able to practice our Ivrit together... my first class Monday through Thursdays is Elementary Hebrew with an absolultely hilarious old Israeli man. I'm also the only freshman who is officially on the Leadership Team at DU Hillel, and I believe I'm going to end up as a Shabbat chair.

Anyway, I'm sure all my friends here are sick of hearing about you so you're going to have to come visit in the spring so they can all meet you. :)