Eleven months after 11 Jews were murdered on Oct. 27, 2018, families and loved ones of the deceased uttered a concluding Kaddish on Sept. 18, 2019. Yahrtzeit for the deceased will occur approximately two months later given the Hebrew leap year, however, according to Jewish tradition, the formal mourning period, in which the Mourner’s Kaddish is recited daily, has ended.
According to the Jewish calendar, the formal 11 month mourning period began on the 18th day of Elul and ended on the 18th day of Heshvan, noted Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers, of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha.
No ceremony exists for marking the end of the 11 month period apart from no longer saying the Mourner’s Kaddish on a daily basis.
“The starkness of just stopping the recitation might not provide the closure that some need,” explained Myers in a message to congregants.
Because of the possible abruptness in activity, Myers marked the transition by chanting the “A. Malei Rahamim for the 11” at the conclusion of morning services on Sept. 18.
“A. Malei Rahamim for the 11” was written by Rabbi Daniel Yolkut of Congregation Poale Zedeck and amended slightly by Rabbi Seth Adelson of Congregation Beth Shalom.
An English translation of the prayer reads: “God full of mercy, who dwells on high, establish proper rest under the wings of the Divine Presence, on the levels of the holy and pure ones who shine like the splendor of the firmament, for the souls of the Kedoshim of Pittsburgh, murdered al kiddush Hashem, because we pray for the elevation of their souls. And remember for us their sacrifice and let their merit stand for us and for all of Israel. Let the earth not cover their blood and let there not be a place sufficient for their cries. Master of mercy, cover them in the cover of Your wings forever and may their souls be bound up in the bonds of life. God is their inheritance, may their rest be in Gan Eden, and let them rest in peace upon their places of repose, and let them stand for their fate in the end of days. And let us say Amen.”
Ending the formal mourning period marks another place on the path to healing, explained Myers.
“We will always be healing, never healed. Reminders surround us every hour of every day. The uniqueness that is Pittsburgh is the ability to do this together. We are not merely our brother or sister’s keeper, as God rhetorically inquired of Cain, but also our brother and sister’s helper, as so eloquently encouraged by Mr. Rogers,” noted Myers. “The support from all those around us, regardless of color, religion or sexual orientation, is what propels us headlong through each day, each hour. Knowing that there are helpers regularly placed along our path is a reminder that God’s presence continues in ways that we may never truly understand.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.