From the inbox comes the following:
I've read a few of your posts about honoring the late wife. I just finished reading your most recent Widows Wednesday Christmas tradition. I understand your points of view and agree with most if not all, but what isn't mentioned or talked about is the religious remembering. I’m Jewish and we have a tradition of having the deceased name be read by our Rabbi. My new wife includes this in your category of honoring. I suppose it is honoring but in Judaism it’s really more about remembering. I don't consider this a new tradition. It started around the 13th century. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.
Thanks for reaching out and asking a great question.
I’m not Jewish, but are you referring to the mourners Kaddish? (If not, my apologies.) If this is what you’re referring to, I did some research and from what I’ve read, I understand it to be part of a prayer that is said daily for a month after a spouse dies and then repeated on the anniversary their death. (If I’m missing something or don’t have full context of this practice, can someone give me more information in the comments below. The internet isn’t always the best place to research religious topics.) Based on my research, I don’t have a problem with it as its purpose is to bless the soul of the deceased and give the living a way to briefly remember them.
The question I would pose to you, Robert, is this: Why are you having the Rabbi read her name? If you’re doing it because you feel it’s an important part of your faith and brings you inner peace, then move forward. However, if you’re doing it because you feel pressure from the congregation, Rabbi, or family members to have the prayer said, then perhaps you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and need to decide if it’s worth doing at all.
One thing you didn’t mention was whether or not if your new wife shared your Jewish beliefs. If she doesn’t share your faith, maybe the Rabbi or another third party can explain the purpose of this ritual and help her understand it’s purpose. This may help alleviate some of her concerns about having her name come up in a prayer. If she is Jewish, it might help to point out that a Kaddish is also said for deceased parents and other loved ones as well as a way to remember them.
In any case, there’s a fine line between remembering and honoring the late wife. So long that this remembrance doesn’t negatively affect your mood or pull you back in the past for an extended period of time, I don’t see a problem with it.
As for how one can tell if someone is honoring or remembering the late wife, I’ll address that subject in next week’s column.