Thursday, May 01, 2008

On Yom HaShoah - Day of Remembrance of the Nazi Holocaust

Today is Yom HaShoah - The Day of Remembrance of the Nazi Holocaust. It's being observed one day earlier in the Jewish calendar than usual because of not wanting to observe it on Friday [Shabbat].

In a week where we saw a spiritual leader from another religion wounded by the politics of the day and diminished in a society that doesn't know how to hear the prophetic words that rock their safe inner-worlds (worlds in which they each struggle to find meaning), we look back to the Holocaust to see what mankind and government is capable of creating here on Earth. It causes me to tremble. It causes me to understand that governments that claim democracy and freedom as their foundation will always have to be fully transparent and that we are each personally responsible for bringing a willingness to participate with sobriety, intelligence, respect, justice, and truth to that which we call democracy and patriotism.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center has shared several versions of The Mourner's Kaddish today in remembrance of the dead, pointing out that some of the murderous wars and terrorist actions that hve happened since the Holocausr have been asserted by some members of different communities of God - violence and terror inflicted upon minorities in each of their communities -- to be carried on in the name of God. Rabbi Easkow says, "This version of Mourners Kaddish is intended to assert with absolute clarity that no such killing can be IN THE NAME OF GOD."


The Jewish prayer that is used to mourn the dead is the Kaddish, though it has in it only one word -- "nechamata, consolations" - which hints at mourning. In this version, changes in the last line of the Hebrew and English texts specifically include praying for shalom, peace, not only for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all who dwell on this planet.

The interpretive English addresses the meaning of "shmei rabbah," the "Great Name," which is interpreted as that name which includes all the names of all beings in the universe and which is also present within all beings.

The interpretive English suggests why in the midst of saying we cannot praise or sing to God enough to fully celebrate the Awesome Reality, we also say we cannot CONSOLE (nechamata) God enough. In our view, while many forms of death are part of the great spiral of all life, one kind of death -- the killing of one human, bearing the Image of God, by another -- leaves God inconsolable.

In the next-to-last verse this version focuses on preserving life for those of our own "family," the Godwrestlers, and then in the last verse it prays for shalom for us [those immediately present], for all the Godwrestling folk (Israel), for all the children of Ishmael, and for all peoples.

This Kaddish was developed by The Shalom Center and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Yitgadal V'yit'kadash Shmei Rabah

May the Great Name, through our expanding awareness and our fuller action, lift Itself to become still higher and more holy;

May our names, along with all the names of all the beings in the universe, live within the Great Name;

May the names of all whom we can no longer touch but who have touched our hearts and lives, remain alight within our memories and in the Great Name;

May the names of all who have died in violence and war be kept alight in our sight and in the Great Name, with sorrow that we were not yet able to shape a world in which they would have lived.

May the Great Name, bearing ALL these names, live within each one of us;

B'alma di vra chi'rooteh v'yamlich malchuteh b'chayeichun, u'v'yomeichun, u'v'chayei d'chol beit yisrael, b'agalah u'vzman kariv, v'imru

May Your Great Name lift Itself
still higher and more holy
throughout the world that You have offered us,
a world of majestic peaceful order
that gives life to the Godwrestling folk
through time and through eternity ----
And let's say, Amein

Y'hei sh'mei rabbah me'vorach
l'olam almei almaya.

So therefore may the Great Name be blessed, through every Mystery and Mastery
of every universe.

Yitbarach, v'yishtabach, v'yitpa'ar, v'yitromam, v'yitnasei, v'yithadar, v'yit'aleh, v'yithalal -- Shmei di'kudshah, -- Brich hu

May the Great Name be blessed and celebrated, Its beauty honored and raised high; may It be lifted and carried,
may Its radiance be praised in all Its Holiness --- Blessed be!

L'eylah min kol bir'chatah v'shir'atah tush'be'chatah v'nechematah, de'amiran be'alma, v'imru: Amein

Even though we cannot give You enough blessing, enough song, enough praise, enough consolation
to match what we wish to lay before You -

And though we know that today there is
no way to console You
when among us some who bear Your Image in our being
are slaughtering others
who bear Your Image in our being.

Yehei Shlama Rabah min Shemaya v'chayyim aleinu v'al kol Yisrael, v'imru Amein.

Still we beseech that from the unity of Your Great Name flow great harmony and joyful life for the Godwrestling folk;

Oseh Shalom bi'm'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v'imru: Amein.

You who make harmony
in the ultimate reaches of the universe,
teach us to make harmony
within ourselves, among ourselves --
and peace for the Godwrestling folk,
the people Israel;
for our cousins the children of Ishmael;
and for all who dwell upon this planet.

Oseh Shalom bi'm'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v'imru: Amein.


GreenSmile said...

This is beautiful Jude.

Kaddish is recited in many contexts, and like many a comforting prayer, the power is in the play between the unvarying words and the ever changing heart that says them. The mourners Kaddish is not a different prayer than the other recitations in an ordinary service but its said in a different way, with only those who have a loss reciting aloud.

In that context, though the words exalt the maker, we are all just being witnesses. And so it is with yom hashoah...not to nurse a grudge or maintain a separation from persecutors but only to be witnesses to persecution so that humanity cannot slip into denial about its worst that it can avoid its worst potential.

I think it is helpful when one who understands the words in a new way expands and explains by actually using new words. Later the larger meaning is carried in our minds when we read "the same old words".
Waskow has helped very much.