The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a time for soul-searching. A time for reflection on how we have filled our lives, and for considering how we want to live in the coming year. Can we keep our priorities straight? Can we keep our deeds consistent with our words and ideals? Can we unlock the inner chambers of our hearts and be better and richer people than we have been in the past? And even as time seems to pass so quickly, can we find strength and inspiration from those who were dear to us but who are no longer with us?
In my office I keep a picture of my Zayda. He died when I was a young boy but I still carry many precious memories of him, and often I find myself thinking of him for inspiration and courage. He came to America as a young boy, worked hard and sent money back to Europe so that others of his family might come to this land of opportunity. In many ways he was a simple man. He cherished his family, he lived his Jewish heritage, and he loved to garden. I recall that one of his pleasures was taking me into his garden where we picked fresh peas and strawberries, and where he pushed me on the swing that he had built for me.
I remember Yom Kippur with him. I would sit on his lap near the front of the Orthodox synagogue. He took such pride in my knowing the melodies and singing them aloud. And on the way home, we would stop in Golden Gate Park where I would play for a few minutes before walking the short distance to his house where he and my grandmother would break their fast.
In a few days we will come together for our Yizkor service-our service of remembrance which is part of Yom Kippur. We will remember parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and some will suffer the anguish of remembering children. Yes, for many it is a time of great sadness as the loss is raw and deep, and so too the loneliness. But may it be that we also remember the times of joy and happiness; that we remember the great influence that these people had and continue to have upon our lives. Let us remember, with reverence and love, the ones who made our lives rich and meaningful.
I know that most of us have warm and loving memories of people who are no longer alive, but who had a great and deep impact upon us. So true that “people die, but love need never die.” Let us once again resolve that something of them that will never die as they remain a part of us.
Rabbi David Greenberg