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Tradition & Innovation

A Ritual to Prepare for the Yizkor of Yom Kippur

hand writing
Items
Bowl of water
Piece of water-soluable paper and non-toxic pen (such as Paper Mate Retractable Gel Pen).
 
Ritual
1. Before Yom Kippur, as part of your spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days, write on the dissolvable paper an act of tzedekah that you will carry out in the coming year in honor of the memory(ies) of your loved one(s)—perhaps a donation that you will make to a specific cause or an action that you pledge to take.  
 
You may also wish to add a line from a prayer, poem or song, an intention or a memory—a few words that capture your thoughts and feelings as the year/another year begins without the physical presence of your loved one(s).
 
Have a small bowl of water ready.
 
2. Listen to the calls of the shofar: tekiah/ truah/ shevarim
 
The sound of the shofar calls us to awaken: it is the cry of our souls. The broken sounds emitted by the shofar are intended to crack open our hearts and awaken us to deep emotions. The faltering sounds of shevarim/krekhtz are the sound of sobs, of utmost brokenness; they return our souls to the place of broken-heartedness that we experienced during our first experience of mourning. They are cries of release even as they stir us to response.
 
3. Read or Speak this kavannah: 
 
As the sobs of Sarah Imeinu and Sisera’s mother, grieving the loss of their sons, are replicated by the sobbing calls of the shofar, so may our grief find release through allowing it to be expressed.
 
As this new year begins, may our pain be soothed through the action that we take—the tzedekah that we have pledged. 
 
We don’t deny our brokenness. We carry our brokenness and sadness with us. But we strive to transform our brokeness and sadness to hopeful deeds in honor and memory of our beloveds and their values, with the aim of joining in the continuous, onging rectification of our world in the name(s) of those we love.
 
May we be blessed with peace. May our memories become blessings. 
 
4. Slide the paper into the bowl water, the element of transformation, the element that sustains life.
 
5. As you watch the paper dissolve, allow your thoughts to turn to your loved ones and to the actions that you have pledged to take in this coming year to elevate their souls and yours, to enact the reality that their memories will be be for abiding blessings.
 
6. At the end of Yom Kippur, pour out the water—if possible, use it to water a tree or plant so as to nourish life.

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