A Mourner’s Kaddish for Kobe Bryant

May peace be granted to all who mourn and let us say a'men

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Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba

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.

Recently, the world suffered a great loss when Kobe Bryant, his daughter and others were taken from us far before their time.

In today’s fast paced world, we’re all trying to learn how to slow down.  We monitor our screen time.  We strive to get 8-hours of sleep.  We’re told that all the connectivity has left us lonelier and created a loss of community.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to reconnect.

Each week on Shabbat at my temple we read the Mourner’s Kaddish and remember those who have passed.  We read the names of members of our congregation who have left us (often and always long before we are ready to let go).

I am deeply saddened by the loss of Kobe Bryant.  The world of basketball has lost an all-star and the rest of the world has lost a giant. 

However, I am touched by the tributes I have seen and the memories that people have shared.

Rabbis remind us that we are saying this prayer, not just for them, but also for those who have not been named. That this prayer is also meant for those who perished in the night of the Shoah (during the Holocaust). 

 We say this prayer for those who have no one left to say Kaddish for them.  For they are members of our tribe, and for none the less, they are ours.

“The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that our capacity may well be limitless.”

The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin

During the last political election, the media was criticized for reporting Tweets and these past few days I’ve been uplifted by those segments on the news with screenshots who portray the words of others.

The theme of the Kaddish is the greatness of G-d and his most favored creature.  We pray for peace from the only One who may grant it.  Peace between nations, peace between individuals and peace of mind.

An outpouring of love and support can be seen across social media, but has also translated to moments of silence at the Grammy’s and candle light vigils within our communities.  We so often speak of how technology has diminished our capacity to be there for people in reality and yet I see the opposite.

We are reminded that we say this prayer for everyone who has been taken from this earth (not just Jews), because they are children of G-d and therefore children of humanity, so none the less, they are ours.

We are taught to be consoled by the reminder that a soul is an object that was given to us and to each individual to guard and watch over only for a limited time until it may be returned to its rightful owner, the Lord our G-d, and we must be willing to return it with a blessing.

The prayer itself makes no mention of death, loss or mourning.  Nor is there a mention of the person who passed away.  It speaks only of the greatness of G-d and His unlimited power.  It serves as a reminder that G-d is great and everything comes from G-d, so everything that occurs is ultimately for the good.

The streets of heaven are far too crowded with angels tonight.

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