Most mornings now, I wake up with the sounds of Kaddish in my head.
It’s not surprising. For the last seven weeks, my psyche has been focused on the traditional mourners’ prayer, which I’ve been reciting at least six times a day in my mother’s memory.
My life seems to revolve around, and focus on, getting to synagogue on time — morning, afternoon and evening — being prepared to lead the services, and concentrating my thoughts on the concept of elevating my mother’s soul through the recitation of Kaddish.
Anne Frank, the Dutch teenager who through the power and intimacy of her diary became the best-known of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, is most often recalled for an entry that reads: “... I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart ... that this cruelty, too, shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”
One of the fascinating dynamics in American Jewish life today involves the complex and evolving relationship among three key groups: the Establishment organizations, symbolized by the federations, the primary engine that drives the organized Jewish community; the family foundations, which have generated great sums of philanthropic money in recent years; and the hundreds of emerging start-ups, or small, independent and youth-driven nonprofit ventures that have become increasingly popular in the last decade, especially among Generations X and Y.
A strong but subtle combination of admiration, support and resistance among those groups was just under the surface of a number of discussions — public and private — last week in Washington at the GA (the annual General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America).
I told Rich Cohen the other night that his latest book, “Israel Is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its History,” should be a must-read for a young generation of American Jews, many of whom, unfortunately, have little interest in learning about the history of Israel.
Just before my mother, Rebbetzin Esther Friedlander Rosenblatt, was to return home to Annapolis, Md., at the end of the recent Sukkot holiday, after spending a family-filled week with us, my daughter took her aside. She told Mom that the baby she was expecting any day was a boy, and that she and her husband planned to name him for my late father.
My mother was thrilled and eagerly awaited returning to the New York area for the brit milah. She had suffered tragedy in her life and she relished every opportunity to celebrate joyful occasions.
Before there was a Jewish People, there was a Jewish family, and what a family it was.
It started with Abraham, who had marital strife caused by a jealous wife, parenting problems because his sons didn’t get along and he favored one over the other, and issues with his nephew Lot, who got in with a bad crowd in Sodom and Gomorrah.