Mira’s friend Lori Goldwyn’s mother died a year ago today. Lori was among those at Mira’s seder table this spring, when Mira and I made a Pesach Kaddish recording with the assembled before opening our haggadot for the traditional read-and-feast. Lori spoke during the seder about losing her mother the previous September and how much she appreciated beginning with Kaddish and hearing Kogan’s “Kaddish,” and Mira invited Lori to share her thoughts here in a guest essay. Lori wrote this essay five months ago, and I recorded a Kaddish for her then.
Today, we gathered in Mira’s garden with Lori’s family and friends to say a final Kaddish together. Lori organized a simple remembrance, with each of us reading a short piece, Mira reciting Kaddish while I played Kogan’s “Kaddish,” and ultimately all of us reading the Kaddish together.
Today’s podcast is a recording of Mira’s and my reading during the ceremony, and we thank Lori’s family for giving us permission to share it here.
Lori read a piece she wrote about the rabbis of Chabad refusing to say Kaddish with her family when her “Little Mama” died, because there weren’t ten men to form a minyan. We will present her thoughtful response to that rebuff here as a guest essay soon. [Update: here it is!] In the wake of that, it felt like a privilege to me to be among the seven women (not all Jewish), two (female adult) dogs, and one (male adult) cat who formed a minyan for the Yahrtzeit.
After today’s “Kaddish” reading together, Lori planted flowers with a handful of her mother’s ashes in a quiet spot in Mira’s garden. Mira watered the flowers, and then we raised glasses of champagne and said “l’chayim!” To life!
Mira and I were both struck by how our “kaddish in two-part harmony” project has given this a role to play on somber, sacred occasions like this one. We talked together afterward about this and how we have unintentionally created something that fills a gap we hadn’t consciously noticed was missing: a place and a way for all—not just those who are Jewish enough or male enough or whatever else enough to qualify for a traditional setting of bereavement—to observe their grief, celebrate their lost, be not alone in their bereavement.
Today’s Kaddish podcast is the 320th recording in our project. Thank you, Lori, for letting Mira and me be a part of it.