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    Out of the woodwork

    Yom Kippur always brought great crowds to the synagogue. The numbers swelled even more when the time came for Yizkor and people came out of the woodwork, so to speak.

    Even people who claimed to be atheists who are angry with God or question His existence found their way to their people and its memories.

    The origin of the Yizkor ceremony derives from the Torah reading which depicts events “after the death of the sons of Aaron” (Lev. 16:1). The reference to the death of our ancestors gave rise to the idea that memorial prayers should be said by people who are bereaved, regardless of how long ago the death took place.

    I know that some people whose parents are still (Baruch HaShem) alive tend to go out of the synagogue when the memorial prayers are said. It is a practice that really has nothing to commend it. It would be much better for people to stay in the synagogue and give thanks for the blessing of having parents alive.

    Likewise it would be better to stay in the synagogue and say a prayer for the martyrs whose lives were lost in the destruction of European Jewry or in defence of the State of Israel.

    If you say, “My father wasn’t such a tzaddik: why bother with his memory?” Maybe in God’s eyes your father was one of the 36 hidden saints, even though you yourself might be unaware of his value to Heaven…

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