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.