Like most people, I would imagine, my first thoughts upon learning that the Memorial Day weekend here in America would coincide with the festival of Shavuot this year were not happy ones. Three-day weekends are a precious commodity, even for rabbis. Giving one up for three days of Shabbat and Yom Tov was simply not a fair exchange. I’m sure that I like being in synagogue a little more than the average bear, but really… on Memorial Day weekend?
In this holiday season, when we recite Yizkor, Jews are particularly concerned with memory. We remember those who have touched our lives and those whose glow continues even after they are gone, as a star illuminates the earth after its destruction. We are stardust in both senses: in a literal, physical sense, and in the sense that we are the product of people’s influence, stars we knew and those we did not know, whose glow enlivens us.