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KADDISH, RE-VALUED by Sheri Lindner

Kaddish is the traditional prayer that is recited in the Jewish religion for someone who has died…

 It is noteworthy that there is no mention of death in this prayer; rather, the words are about the glory of God.  Kaddish is also recited at various points during a prayer service to delineate one part of the service from another.  Thus, it is a kind of “concluding” prayer.  It is also a prayer that one recites when he (traditionally, it is he but in the Judaism that speaks to me, it is also, she) or she concludes a session of study.

There are many ways to absorb and understand the Kaddish prayer.  I have heard it said that we recite it for a person who has died, because life may be considered its own study session, and the dead person can no longer say this prayer to conclude his or her life of study, so we say it for him or her.

What is offered here includes our traditional prayer first, the words of which do not really resonate with me.  I have attempted to re-value this prayer by defining God in a way that would resonate with me.  There is a part of me that feels arrogant to attempt to define this undefined-able  idea; there is another part of me that understands that I join every human being who has ever existed in wrestling with the grandest Idea, the grandest Creation of humanity.
Photography by Naomi 

Kaddish (The traditional prayer)

Reader:   Let God’s name be made great and holy in the world that was created as God willed.  May God complete the holy realm in your own lifetime, in your days, and in the days of all the house of Israel, quickly and soon.  And say: Amen.

Congregation:  May God’s great name be blessed, forever and as long as worlds endure.

Reader:   May it be blessed and praised and glorified, and held in honor, viewed in awe, embellished and revered; and may the blessed name of holiness be hailed, though it be higher than all the blessings, songs, praises, and consolations that we utter in this world.  And say: Amen.

May heaven grant a universal peace, and life for us, and for all Israel.  And say: Amen.

May the one who creates harmony above, make peace for us and for all Israel, and for all who dwell on earth.  And say:  Amen.

Kaddish (Re-valued by Sheri Lindner)

We stand before the Idea God
by which we mean
all that holds us spellbound within
the abiding Symmetries of the Universe
Beauty that brings us to our knees
Consciousness too deep for words
the unutterable Known
the mystery of Becoming
Loving that takes our breath away
the stretching forth
of our most Awakened Selves
toward Holiness
This is what we mean by God
the Idea of a thousand thousand facets
ungraspably complex
eluding language
but because our living is bound up
with all this
as much as it is bound up with air
we breathe like air
One Unified Word
to hold for us
All that is beyond holding
but must be held nonetheless
Gratitude compels us
to vow before this Incomprehensible All
and to Each Other
to safeguard
Minds that can imagine
such an Idea
Hearts that can open to
such an Idea
our own precious Humanity
that will forever refuse
to be vanquished by
such an Idea

        --Sheri Lindner
              November 22, 2009
              Published Online in The Ritual Well, July 19, 2010

Sheri Lindner, Ph.D., a former teacher of English, and currently a clinical psychologist, is also a poet and essayist interested in the processes of development and maturation as they are reflected in Biblical stories and children’s literature.  Her writings have appeared in Jewish Currents, The Reconstructionist, Reconstructionism Today, Kerem, Jewish Women's Literary Annual, Poetica, Performance Poets Association Literary Review, Matzoh Ball Soup, Soul-Lit, The Ritual Well, and The New York Times.

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~ 


  1. That is gorgeous -- I was raised in a Jewish household and many of the prayers and traditions did not resonate with me - You have done a magnificent reframing and "revaluing" of this sacred prayer. Namaste


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