May God Remember Yizkor: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism (Prayers of Awe)
An engaging and sobering look at memorializing in Judaism and why memory ours and God s is so central to the human enterprise. Few topics exercise the Jewish mind and heart as thoroughly as memorializing the past, and few prayers on the High Holy Days attract as many people as does Yizkor, the Jewish memorial service par excellence. Yizkor recalls both personal losses and the martyrs of history. It began as a sobering reflection on the Jews killed by the Crusaders who destroyed Jewish communities in the Rhineland on their way to the Holy Land. Its signature line, Yizkor ( May God remember ), headed up the memory books in which Jews listed the names of their dead, with the fervent hope that God would remember them. Other prayers followed, including El malei rachamim ( God, full of compassion ), a response to the Chmielnicki pogroms in 1648 Ukraine. Jews in the nineteenth century enlarged this original set of prayers to become the lengthy and touching service that we have today. May God Remember provides the history and the ideas behind this fascinating chapter in Jewish piety. The fourth volume in the Prayers of Awe series, it assembles the collective thought of thirty contributors from all denominations, and from the United States, Canada, England, France, Germany and Israel. Appendices provide the Sefardi memorial prayer called Hashkavah, and a translation and annotation of the original elegy for the dead in 1648 whose loss spurred the creation of El malei rachamim, the most famous of our memorial prayers and a staple for the funeral liturgy as well.
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