Today was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. You’re supposed to pray, asking that your sins/wrongdoing be forgiven. It’s a day of inner reflection. You fast from sundown the night before until sundown of the following day.
It’s always a very somber day. Along with asking for forgiveness, you also remember those who you’ve lost over the years. There are prayers said if you’ve lost a spouse, parent, child, sibling, etc. The part of the day for that is called the Yizkor Service. It’s only for those who have to say those specific prayers. I asked my Rabbi during Rosh Hashanah if it would be permitted for me to stay and say it for the 17. I’ve never had to attend Yizkor, since, thankfully, I haven’t lost a parent, child, my brother or my husband. He said that it would be more than ok. His decision came from not only what I went through, but what they meant to me and what I meant to them. I cried when discussing this with him last week.
When it came time for the Yizkor service to begin, I didn’t really know what to expect. We use the prayer book and a book with the specific prayers. Congregants are given the option of adding the names of those they’d like to honor/remember. My parents put in their parents, as well as their grandparents and my father-in-law’s name. This year I put in the names of the 17. I opened the booklet, and saw that the names were on the first page. It was just so sad to see them there. I know that not all of the victims were Jewish. I know that I didn’t know all of them personally. I know that I lost two students and two friends. I know that the community was left vulnerable, with wounds that will take a lifetime to heal. I know that there are 17 sets of parents who will never get their children back.
I stood there and I cried. Not just a few tears… full on ugly crying. I haven’t cried about it in a while, and it felt good to let it go. It was just so overwhelming and so unbelievably sad. My mom put her arm around me as my body shook with sobs. My husband grabbed my hand. I know it was hard for them to see me so sad, and know that there wasn’t anything they could do.
Shortly before the Yizkor service, my son asked me if I had died ton 2/14, if he and my daughter would have to say the prayers for me. I said yes. I shouldn’t have to answer that question. He shouldn’t have to ask that at the age of 12. The 17 sets of parents shouldn’t have to say whatever prayers are within their faith for those they lost. It shouldn’t have happened to us. It should’ve stopped with us.
I prayed for peace for the MSD community. I prayed for peace for the 17 families. I prayed for inner peace and healing. I prayed that there would be change, so that more people don’t have to experience what we did.
It was an easy fast, but a very tough day.