Mourner’s Kaddish (My Mother’s Yahrzeit) | Performed December 8, 2018

8 December 2018 | Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5779

Tonight is my mother’s fourth yartzeit, the anniversary of her death.

Following Jewish tradition, I mark this day by reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish in her memory. Mourner’s Kaddish is a Jewish prayer recited daily by mourners for 11 months after the passing of a parent, and again on their Yahrzeit. According to Jewish law, this prayer may only be recited in the presence of a minyan, a prayer quorum of ten men, and even then there are many who forbid a woman from saying the prayer on her own without the accompaniment of a man’s voice. It is customary for all the mourners of the congregation to recite Kaddish in unison.

My memories of reciting kaddish are mostly those of frustration, confusion, and anger. Because I am a woman, I was often ignored and silenced while reciting this prayer during services, my voice like an offensive sound to the men of the minyan. I stand here tonight to reclaim my voice that was silenced by the patriarchal system of Orthodox Judaism during my time reciting this prayer and to explore new means of developing my own relationship with this prayer outside of this isolating system.

For the first time in I will recite this prayer alone.

Without the presence of a minyan.

Without the presence of my community.

Without the presence of my family.

Without the anxieties of caring how this prayer will be received.

Without the fear of being silenced.

With trust that my voice is enough.