March 25th, 2014

(relatively) recent

Why I am reciting kaddish three times a day

I seem to have taken the injunction to recite kaddish three times a day for the full twelve months of mourning much more seriously than the other members of my family, even my Modern Orthodox brother. It intrigues me to speculate why. I think I know the answer.

Like some other communities including my present one, the Newcastle community has a mourners' siddur. It contains extracts from the second edition Singer's Prayer Book, adapted to leave out the prayers not said in a shiva house; along with prayers to be said in a house of mourning. I probably knew beforehand, but had forgotten until I saw the book again when my mother died, that it was not, as I had thought, a national publication, but was put together by R. Shlomo Toperoff, minister in Leazes shul in Newcastle before my birth (he was the rabbi who married my parents).

In his lengthy introduction to the book, R. Toperoff (whom my father informs me was very strict) bewails how mourning customs are, as he sees it, falling into disuse, and urges their observance. This had a big impact on me when I first read it at a formative age, when my paternal grandfather died in 1985, and when my maternal grandfather died in 1987.

So why, then, did this have such an influence on me but not the rest of my family? Answer, because I don't think they read it. I certainly know one member of my family did not. But I am the sort of person to read lengthy prefaces, as witness this prior incident.

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