Scheduling Remembrance: Sometimes Life Gets in Way

Jewish mourning rituals meant nothing to me when my brother died. It took nearly two decades for me to embrace the gift Judaism gives mourners – regular times to remember the loved ones we have lost.

My brother Kevin died 26 years ago today on March 1, 1986. He was 23. I was 21. I grew up ignorant of the structure my religion offers mourners. Singing in temple choirs and attending Shabbat services gave me my first lessons about Jewish remembrance. I noticed the people who stood to hear the names of those they had lost – spouses, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Today, I am no longer so ignorant of my faith’s rituals. But, I confess, it’s not always easy to stop life and remember.

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Saga of our Souls

He was gone, just gone. This was my belief after my brother Kevin died in a car accident in 1986. He was 23, and I was 21. All that remained were the memories of a fun-loving, caring brother with an impish streak.

I sensed my brother’s presence by my side at times during those first years after his death. But I did not think he was in some new, better world. Jews, I was sure then, do not believe in heaven. Right? The answer, I am learning, is complex.

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