It's hard to believe my father has been gone a year. His yahrzeit, which marks the year of mourning, was 22 Tammuz, which fell on July 1 this year.
He left a manual of Jewish mourning customs from our Baghdadi-Indian heritage with specific instructions about how to conduct the funeral and the shiva; biblical, rabbinic and kabbalistic texts to recite on the 22nd and 30th days after the funeral; and the Mourner’s Kaddish with its variations. He called the 500-page, hard-bound volume embossed with gold lettering Kir’u Aharai, Read After Me.
What he didn’t include—much less foresee—was how to participate in a year of “virtual” mourning, when the mourning was real, but the community was virtual. After leading a nightly minyan for family all over the world the first month after his death, I switched to participating in the Zoom minyan of Temple of Israel of Great Neck, N.Y., either alone or with my mother, who had been staying with me every other weekend.
I wrote about "My Year of Zoom Kaddish." Thanks to Hadassah magazine for publishing it in this month's issue.
So much of what I've done this year has been to honor my father's memory. Every custom or melody I've shared, every Torah reading I've chanted--to honor his memory. Here he is with my mother in one of his favorite places--standing in front of the Torah. The Yad, the pointer, guided his words.
Now his hands, though physically unseen, remain with us to guide us. The touch of his hands on our bent heads and the sound of his voice as he blessed us with the priestly blessing he so cherished and bestowed liberally upon us will forever resonate in our hearts. May God bless you and keep you. May God's light shine upon you. May God grant you peace.
Yehi zichro baruch. May his memory be a blessing.
Copies of Kir'u Aharai are still available. Please contact me if you are interested.
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Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad.