We recorded a Kaddish at Mira’s Seder last night—about 20 people gathered together at Beit Malkhut, and we opened with Kaddish. Mira led the Kaddish text in one microphone in the dining room, and I played Lev Kogan’s “Kaddish” at another mic in the living room. Mira dedicated this kaddish to Mohammed Bouazizi, whose humble reaction to bureaucratic humiliation set off the revolution in Tunisia, which set of revolutions in Egypt and Libya.
Mira also spoke to the assembled about a Seder tradition that was unfamiliar to most of us: that it begins with “fake mourning,” with some explanation having to do with… well, I don’t remember, because what Mira pointed out was that her mourning didn’t feel fake to her. Nor did mine.
Later in the Seder, we spoke about bondage in its myriad forms. When it was my turn, I spoke of my situation a year ago today, in which I felt in bondage to grief. We had just said goodbye to our wonderful black lab, Candy Pants. A few months later, my dear love Nanc died. A few months after that, my collaborator Tina Wuelfing Cargile. After that… and on and on. The deaths were piling up. I was constipated with grief.
In October, I stumbled upon Mira’s blog at my friend Tina (another Tina)’s suggestion, and I saw a similar stopping-up by grief in her writing. And we began a project—a kaddish in two-part harmony, Mira named it.
Six months in, the process is working. The healing is happening. And as I told the assembled, I am so grateful to my wife, Victoria, for supporting this project—its daily intrustion, and the hours in which I disappear into my office nearly every day to collaborate with Mira—and to Mira, for taking hands with me in this journey that neither of us expected, which is doing its job, which is bringing joy back into our lives, and which seems to be creating a space that is holy for us and for our minyan.
This was our first Kaddish with a live minyan. A double minyan—around twenty adults were assembled for the seder, reading the text along with Mira as I played. Many of us in the room had experienced loss during the year. Beginning with Kaddish made the rest of the Seder—the contemplation of freedom from our Mitzrayim—possible.