Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yartzheits and Hoops

There is a Jewish practice to honor loved ones who have passed on the aniversary of their deaths according to the Hebrew calendar called a yartzheit. By having the names of cherished family members who have passed called out during regular synagogue religious services and by reciting a special prayer called Kaddish on that date, the lives and deeds of the deceased are recalled and their memories are kept alive in the hearts of those who remain. The Kaddish, originally written in Aramaic, is a powerful prayer of praise to God that never mentions the dead, but binds the mourner to community and is, in effect, a prayer for the living. Later this morning I will be joining with a local family who tragically lost a beloved 27-year-old daughter five years ago. There will be services at their home. Next week my son and I will also recall the memory of my wife and his mother Sally who passed away 13 years ago. These private somber moments will have great meaning for us. But for most of the nation its thoughts will center on the loud, raucous NBA All-Star game that culminates a weekend of activities being held here in the Crescent City. Thousands of locals and visitors alike have been taking part in the "NBA All-Star Jam" being held at the Morial Convention Center for the past four days. The big showdown is tonight on TNT at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

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