Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Community

Prepent Day 8: Honoring the Dead

Sunday 9/11/16

Elul 8 5776

Dear Deceased,

Today includes a pilgrimage to the burial place of my maternal ancestors on the outskirts of London. Three generations, spanning a century, welcome us in silence. I was here exactly a year ago with my mother, placing stones on the graves of her parents and grandparents, siblings and cousins and friends. Another aunt has died since then, now more of that generation on that side of life than ours. On this, the 8th day of this journey to renewal, I represent my mother in honoring the ancestors as is the custom during these days of Elul.

I stand here among my dead relatives and think about those who have no grave.

My father’s parents, brother and so many other family members who perished in the Holocaust. And I think about all those whose ashes were scattered all over New York City on this day 15 years ago today. I was there on 9/11 and those ashes are as tangible and memorable in my heart as these engraved grave stone that I have come here to see, and touch, and take a photo of, as if to say: Remembered.

This becomes the day on which I pause to think of what other graves I’ve stood by this past year, who among my family and friends is no longer living? What legacy have they left behind? What stories and teachings are left? What secrets and songs we will never know?

Honoring the deceased and marking death with dignity allows us to refocus on the gift of life. What will my legacy be? what matters most when all is said and done? What will be written on my tombstone?

May the souls of deceased rest in peace, grave or not. May memories be blessings, today and each and every day of precious living.

To my ancestors, a simple stone of gratitude for the gift of legacy and life.

Love,

Amichai

PREPENT: Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie’s annual journey to the new year, with 40 ways in 40 days to reflect, refocus, recharge and restart life. This year features daily love letters inspired by Lab/Shul’s theme for the High Holy Days, “וְאָהַבְתָּ re:love.”

Subscribe to Lab/Shul’s mailing list to receive this free daily blog in your inbox by checking “Prepent” as a special interest, share them on Facebook or Twitter, or read it online at the Forward.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.