The Liv­ing Mem­o­ries Project

  • Review
By – May 22, 2014

Remem­ber­ing deceased rel­a­tives and friends is a core Jew­ish val­ue embod­ied in the prac­tice of recit­ing Kad­dish, the mourn­er’s prayer, and observ­ing the Yahrzeit, or anniver­sary, of the death of the per­son. The Liv­ing Mem­o­ries Project: Lega­cies That Last, writ­ten by Meryl Ain, Arthur M. Fis­chman, and Stew­art Ain, offers addi­tion­al ways to memo­ri­al­ize loved ones. It is a com­pi­la­tion of over thir­ty accounts by Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish con­trib­u­tors who have turned their painful griev­ing into projects that help oth­ers and at the same time pay trib­ute to their depart­ed loved ones. These projects include cre­at­ing human­i­tar­i­an foun­da­tions in the name of the deceased per­son, memo­r­i­al quilts,“memory stone” sculp­tures, and poems, and doing altru­is­tic deeds. For exam­ple, Sher­ri Man­dell cre­at­ed the Koby Man­dell Foun­da­tion in response to the trag­ic mur­der of her son Ya’acov (Koby) Man­dell and his friend Yosef Ish-Ran in 2001 in the Gush Etzion com­mu­ni­ty in Israel. The foun­da­tion estab­lished a camp that pro­vides heal­ing pro­grams for fam­i­lies struck by ter­ror­ism” in Israel. 

The impor­tance of remem­ber­ing deceased loved ones was graph­i­cal­ly brought home in the essay by one of the con­trib­u­tors, the renowned Jew­ish geneal­o­gist and Kab­bal­ist, Arthur Kurzweil. Kurzweil sug­gests that genea­logical research is a means to build bridges to rel­a­tives includ­ing those who per­ished in the Shoah; The Nazis give us num­bers and the Jew­ish geneal­o­gists take away num­bers and give us names.” Kurzweil describes his expe­ri­ences at a wed­ding in Israel per­formed by the dis­tin­guished Torah sage, Rab­bi Adin Stein­saltz. The first thing Rab­bi Stein­saltz did was to invite the ances­tors — by name — to come under the chu­pah (wed­ding canopy).” Such an anec­dote cap­tures the spir­it of this book: heart­warm­ing and ener­giz­ing as one real­izes how very sad events can be turned into oppor­tu­ni­ties to help oth­ers. Read­ers are encour­aged to become active mem­bers of The Liv­ing Mem­o­ries Project”; and sub­mit accounts of ways they have immor­tal­ized their loved ones to the authors, to be includ­ed in vol­ume two of this remark­able book.

Relat­ed Content

Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

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