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Book Remembrance

Click the image to page through the book.

Here at Beth Sholom Congregation, we use the Memorial Booklet as a way to remember family members whose lives helped shape the people we have become – and the people we are becoming. There is pain in evoking the memory of our loved ones, even as we pray that the sweetness of those memories will add fragrance to our lives. We Jews have developed a particular expertise in our ability to experience both the bitter and the sweet simultaneously. Even as we prepare to usher in the New Year with anticipation and gratitude, we remember that to be human also involves the experience of loss.
 
The consciousness of the bitter along with the sweet is present in so many Jewish rituals and customs. From the breaking of the glass (a reminder of the destruction of the Temple, and the world’s lack of wholeness) at the end of a wedding ceremony; to the saying of Kaddish (an affirmation of God) in the wake of death; to the lighting of the hanukiyah at Hanukkah (bringing in light at the time of year when the world is dark); so much of Jewish life reminds us of both the blessing and the fragility of life.
 
That is why when we Jews come together to celebrate, the phase that we hear so often is L'Chaim – “To Life!” L'Chaim is not a toast – not a wish for good health or good luck. It is not a prayer or a petition, for God has already given us life. To say L'Chaim is to affirm our faith in the goodness and the holiness of life even when life is difficult and painful. At the same time L'Chaim is also an affirmation of gratitude for the many blessings
that we have already been given.
 
From this perspective, L'Chaim is a way of living life. To say L'Chaim is not so much to celebrate life as we know it, but to be willing to choose life even when life feels most difficult. As a people, we have been willing to say L'Chaim in the midst of great suffering and great sorrow. And as individuals, our willingness to say L'Chaim is a sign that life is precious and holy, even when it is painful and unfair.
 
In this coming year, may each of us merit the gift of the power of the words L'Chaim – so that we may celebrate the beauty of life-through both our joys and our sorrows.
 
Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin
Cantor Jacob Agar
Mon, November 29 2021 25 Kislev 5782