My Mother’s Kaddish

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.יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא

Waking in the dark beneath the heavy cloak of dawnֿ

I wait for the soothing rhythm of the words, always the same

When my world is not.

,בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ בְּחַיֵּיכון וּבְיומֵיכון וּבְחַיֵּי דְכָל בֵּית יִשרָאֵל בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב

In synagogues near and far, day after day

In a room full of people I am present, yet so alone

Punctual for no one, but myself

A small invisible voice

Begging to be heard across the great divide

Behind lace curtains

And around the world.

:וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

May her soul be lifted

A gentle soul, a patient soul

Yearning for dreams to come true

Longing for days gone by

Strong and kind

Silent determination

Until the last breath drawn.

:יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָּא

May her soul be lifted

Opening tarnished brass handles on drawers

Lined with used gift wrap

Torn at the edges

Holding treasures of a long life

Notes tucked under the blue silk scented pouch

Long unscented.

יִתְבָּרַךְ וְיִשְׁתַּבַּח וְיִתְפָּאַר וְיִתְרומַם וְיִתְנַשּא וְיִתְהַדָּר

,וְיִתְעַלֶּה וְיִתְהַלָּל שְׁמֵהּ דְּקֻדְשָׁא

.בְּרִיךְ הוּא

May her soul be lifted

As I unwrap a lifetime of memories

Children’s artwork, ribbons and buttons

Dusty manila envelopes hugging poems

Once again in my own hands

Her books, her music, her life

Boxed and waiting to be held once again.

לְעֵלָּא מִן כָּל בִּרְכָתָא וְשִׁירָתָא תֻּשְׁבְּחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא

.דַּאֲמִירָן בְּעָלְמָא

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

May her soul be lifted

On chords of Chopin and streaming reams of

Green and silver, purple and gold.

In harmony and song

Moonlight Sonata with dinner

Notes of love exchanged

In perfect devotion for fifty nine years

A love story now complete.

,יְהֵא שְׁלָמָא רַבָּא מִן שְׁמַיָּא וְחַיִּים עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשרָאֵל

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

May her soul be lifted higher

In gratitude of

My mother, my role model and friend

An endless source of unconditional love


Devotion and


עושה שָׁלום בִּמְרומָיו הוּא יַעֲשה שָׁלום עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל

יִשרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ

And higher

May her soul rise up to look down and see

Her grandchildren and great grandchildren

Singing and playing

The song of life begun in 1924

And, as I open my prayer book, now at home

I  keep your love tightly wrapped within my heart

Pulling golden threads from it slowly to pass along through life



Ilene Kupferman is a Speech and Language pathologist with a special interest in language and learning disorders in children. She is an active member in her community, passionate Shabbos host, and a dedicated connector for singles on YUConnects. She lives in Riverdale, New York with her husband Sheldon, and is a proud mother of four children and savti (grandmother) to three young grandchildren. She is a lifelong learner, still trying to create her best self.