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Kaddish- a tribute to Nelson Mandela

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

The Kaddish is a time when we mourn our personal losses, those that have occurred this year as well as those who have touched our lives perhaps many years or even decades ago. As I reflect back on 5774, I reflect on the loss of Nelson Mandela, a man who influenced our world by his words and deeds, and international symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation. When he died last December, he was described as “larger than life.” Mandela was praised for his championing of human dignity and freedom, for his uncommon grace and compassion, and for his tremendous moral courage.[1] Nelson Mandela exemplified the principle articulated by the prophet Micah, when he asked, “What is it that God desires most from us? Only this-that we act justly, that we love acts of kindness, and that we walk humbly on our journey with the Holy One.”

In addition to the example of how he lived his life, Nelson Mandela left so many inspiring teachings. As we rise and join together in the Kaddish Yatom, let us remember a few of his words:

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and communal lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamed of.”

And this thought, so appropriate for the High Holiday season- “Difficulties break some men but make others. No ax is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”

[1] various world leaders quoted in the Arizona Republic, December 6, 2013, p. A4

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