In the Stream of Eternity

By Shira Nadich Levin | Issue Date: October 2009

I lost my parents, Rabbi Judah Nadich and Martha Hadassah Ribalow Nadich, within seven months of each other—my father on the 12th of Elul, 5767 (2007), and my mother on the 18th of Adar, 5768 (2008).

After each loss, my sisters and I sat shiva with our extended families. The closeness of our family and the visits of so many— close friends as well as strangers, who came to share stories of their experiences with my parents—brought us all tremendous comfort. It did not surprise me that spending such an intense experience with those I love best brought me tremendous solace. What did surprise me was the significance of each minyan, repeating the words of the kaddish with my sisters, and being supported by the symphony of voices davening together. When each shiva was over, it seemed natural to go to the BJ minyan to continue davening and reciting kaddish. In truth, I did not want to let go of the comfort I had found in communal prayer.

What I discovered in attending BJ’s morning minyan during the following 18 months was an extension of the comfort I found during each week of shiva. Not only was I supported by my husband, who came with me so much of the time, and by a group that would become so important to me, I was surrounded by many who had experienced loss and with whom I felt a strong bond. I realized that saying kaddish forces the mourner to rejoin and take his/her place in the community of faith.

The loss of my parents is one from which I will never fully recover. I am grateful, though, that their loss left me with a wonderful gift. The 11 months of mourning for each of my parents has long since passed, and the minyan is no longer merely a place in which I seek comfort. It is a sanctified way to start the day, it is a place where I see a wonderful group of committed BJ members, and it has put BJ in an even more significant position in my life and in the life of my family.

In a sermon my father preached, he said: “One cannot live by spiritual spurts and starts. … Religion is a matter that requires daily devotion and attention. … Prayer enables us to reach deep into the core of our beings … and brings to our consciousness, before God, the mystical, beautiful, aesthetic and affectionate capacities that reside deep within us. It also takes us out of our own age and places us in the stream of eternity.”

I ask that, as a BJ member, you share in the responsibility of ensuring that at least 10 people participate daily in order for mourners to recite kaddish; I invite you to commemorate yahrzeits as well as happy occasions by attending the minyan; and I encourage you to share in the wonderful experience of starting your day in this community of prayer.

Shira Nadich Levin is a real estate partner at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, and serves as pro bono counsel to The Abraham Joshua Heschel School (where she is also an honorary trustee and former president), as well as to the Jewish Funders Network and The Abraham Fund Initiatives. Shira is a member of BJ together with her husband, Jim, and her sons, Alexander, Gideon, and Benjamin, serves on the Executive Committee, and co-chairs the BJ Minyan Committee and Volunteer Task Force.