Few topics exercise the Jewish mind and heart as thoroughly as memorializing the past—particularly at the High Holy Days—and few prayers on the High Holy Days attract as many people as does Yizkor, the Jewish memorial service par excellence. Yizkor recalls both personal losses and the martyrs of history. It began as a sobering reflection on the Jews killed by the Crusaders who destroyed Jewish communities in the Rhineland on their way to the Holy Land. Its signature line, Yizkor (“May God remember”), headed up the memory books in which Jews listed the names of their dead, with the fervent hope that God would remember them.
“In insisting on memory, we are apparently in good company, however, because God too (we say) can be importuned to remember,” writes Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman in MAY GOD REMEMBER—YIZKOR: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism (Jewish Lights / August 2013 / Hardcover / $24.99). “That, at least, is the claim of Yizkor, known in English as the memorial service, originally a relatively modest liturgical staple attached in Ashkenazi tradition to the Shacharit (“morning”) service for Yom Kippur.”
Through a series of lively introductions and commentaries, over thirty contributors—men and women, scholars, rabbis, theologians and authors, representing all Jewish denominations—examine the history and ideas behind Yizkor and this fascinating chapter in Jewish piety. Featuring the traditional prayers—provided in the original Hebrew and in a new and annotated translation—this fourth volume in the Prayers of Awe series explores the profound theological questions at the core of this service and within humanity.
This engaging and sobering look at memorializing and Judaism, and High Holy Day liturgy, lets people know exactly what the prayers say. Commentaries from people across the gamut of Jewish tradition and every walk of life examine the Yizkor from the viewpoints of the ancient Rabbis and modern theologians, as well as biblical, mystical, Talmudic, halakhic, linguistic, feminist, community and personal perspectives.
Learn more about MAY GOD REMEMBER—YIZKOR: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism.
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., has served for more than three decades as Professor of Liturgy at HUC-JIR's New York campus. He is a world-renowned liturgist and holder of the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Chair in Liturgy, Worship and Ritual. His work combines research in Jewish ritual, worship and spirituality with a passion for the spiritual renewal of contemporary Judaism. His many books, written and edited, include the Prayers of Awe series: Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un’taneh Tokef; All These Vows—Kol Nidre; and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet (all Jewish Lights). Hoffman also edited the ten-volume series My People’s Prayer Book: Traditional Prayers, Modern Commentaries (Jewish Lights), winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and coedited My People’s Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries (Jewish Lights), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Rabbi Hoffman is a developer of Synagogue 3000, a transdenominational project designed to envision and implement the ideal synagogue of the spirit for the twenty-first century.
Dr. Annette M. Boeckler
Dr. Marc Zvi Brettler
Rabbi Lawrence A. Englander, CM, DHL
Rabbi Edward Feinstein
Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof, Ph.D. (z”l)
Dr. Eric L. Friedland
Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg, DHL
Rabbi Andrew Goldstein, Ph.D.
Dr. Joel M. Hoffman
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Rabbi Walter Homolka, Ph.D., DHL
Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur
Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar
Rabbi Daniel Landes
Rabbi Jonathan Magonet, Ph.D.
Rabbi Dalia Marx, Ph.D.
Rabbi Charles H. Middleburgh, Ph.D.
Rabbi Jay Henry Moses
Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D.
Rabbi Jakob J. Petuchowski, Ph.D. (z”l)
Rabbi Jack Riemer
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Rabbi David Stern
Rabbi David A. Teutsch, Ph.D.
Rabbi Margaret Moers Wenig, DD
Dr. Ron Wolfson
Rabbi Daniel G. Zemel
Dr. Wendy Zierler