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Sealed in the Book of Life

G’mar chatimah tovah – may you be sealed [in the Book of Life] for a good year ahead.

Tonight, Jews around the world will offer these words of greeting to one another as they commemorate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the time of year focused on renewal and reconciliation with others and with God as a way to set the tone for the year ahead.

One of the customs on this holy day is the recitation of memorial prayers for deceased loved ones and the lighting of a special candle in remembrance. For John and me, this tradition holds special significance this year, as we mark the one year anniversary of the passing of John’s mother, Sheila. We lit a candle a couple of days ago, which burned for 24 hours. Each time throughout the day when I would pass the burning candle, I found myself thinking about Sheila, and I realized just how powerful this tradition can be. In bringing her to mind, her memory and all that she was continues to live on.

The memorial prayer, recited by those who have lost loved ones, goes like this:

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name in the world which God created, according to plan. May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, To which we say: Amen.

Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.

Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort. To which we say: Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel. To which we say: Amen.

May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel. To which we say: Amen.

As I think tonight about Sheila and all my loved ones that have passed into God’s eternal care, I pray that their memory would inspire me to live a life of compassion, authenticity, and joy. I would invite you to join me today in remembering those who have gone before you, and give thanks for their life. As you call to mind those you have loved, may their memory be for a blessing.


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