June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

When I think of the Yom Kippurim that I have the ability to remember, some of my memories are foggy and others remain more vivid. As a young child I remember being bewildered as people would leave shul, let’s assume that it was during the break, to stand outside the local bar which was several blocks away from where we were. There they congregated, some with their talleism still on, watching the World Series game. As a member of a family of devout Yankee fans I am assuming that the Yankees must have been in the game.

I also remember the pride I felt when I turned 10 and my parents agreed that I could try to fast through the day. Honestly I do not remember if I was successful, but certainly by the age of 12 I was a pro.

The next Yom Kippur which had an impact on me was when, as the shofar was blown following Neielah, I was overcome with emotion as we were set to leave our first shteller in Brantford, Ontario the next day. We had both become very close with many of the baalabatim and suddenly it hit me that we were leaving the community to move to Boston quite unexpectedly after the sudden passing of my father in law.

Then of course there is what is probably the most known Yom Kippur in our generation’s minds. The famous one in October 1973 when I only realized something was up when I arrived in shul and noticed an unusual buzz that had nothing to do with davening. I was told that a sudden war had erupted in Israel when Syria and Egypt had decided to surprise the Israeli population while many were in their batei knesset. Suddenly there was an attempt to invade the country from the North and the South. We all know the results of that war, but when I began to check on its history I realized how many names were involved in it that many of our young people today will never know unless they learn about it in their Jewish history classes.

Yes, Golda Meier was the prime minister at that time; Ariel Sharon, Moshe Dayan and many others led us to victory. These were everyday names to us then, yet soon after, and as always occurs, they were replaced by others.

We often talk about memories and how long it will take for our children and the generations after them to forget or have no knowledge of things that happened prior to now.

As we light a yahrzeit candle on Yom Kippur we need to do more than merely light it. We need to take the time to speak with our children about who we are lighting it for. How long will generations be remembered? As I think about it I am saddened by the fact that there is no way we can expect our grandchildren to remember those who passed years ago. We as adults sometimes lose connection with our families. I sit here as I write and I wonder: Is it fair for us to expect our children to visit the graves of our parents and relatives? My father’s parents and sister are buried in Haifa. Mordechai’s grandparents are buried on Har Hamenuchot. We make it a point of visiting whenever we are able to. No one in the family ever knew them. Who will continue to visit? My husband has parents and siblings buried in Boston. I have grandparents buried somewhere along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (I think now the Jackie Robinson), as well as aunts. Their memories will be buried with us.

On Yom Kippur as well as other chagim we are given the opportunity to say Yizkor. It is a time to reflect on those we lost and will never see again. It’s not much time.

Sometimes in shul I feel that Yizkor has become an obligation for us, but it seems strange to me that as soon as the allotted time of 10 minutes or so passes the crowds return to the shul and the thoughts are erased from our minds because we are forced to move on with the davening. How many times do I remember Mordechai saying Yizkor for the Amud in Montreal and crying as he repeated the tefilla for the chayalim or those lost in the Shoah or anyone else that he had the time to concentrate on. That was real Yizkor. In his voice was the pain of the loss. He cried for all of us and we joined along.

I try meticulously to call each of my children (we are scattered) on the days of my parents’ yahrzeits to remind them and talk to them about how much they were loved and how much our kids loved them. I know that in the next generation this will not happen. As Mordechai always tells me, “That is life.”

Yom Kippur makes me nostalgic for the past and for the memories of those who lived before us. I would suggest that all of us make the effort to speak with our children about our relatives who are no longer alive so that we can at least make the effort to keep their memories alive as long as possible.


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. She can be reached at [email protected].

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