Readings for a Secular Jewish Memorial

1. Be consoled, my people

Be consoled, be consoled, my people;
Take comfort from your grief.
Make strong your hearts; your spirits, firm.
Be not the wind that blows out the flame
But the breeze that makes it glow;
For there is poison in the night.

Make firm your hearts; your spirits, strong.
There have been other nights with fiery glow,
There have been other victories against the foe.
Nor drop the banner from your hand:
It stands—a mighty, shining wall
In the awful, wildly-boiling sea!
O, be strong, my people, light up your flame!
Be consoled, be consoled, my people.

(English: H. Hartman, translated from the original Yiddish by Yitskhok Leybish Perets)

2. Responsive reading by Rev. Roland B. Gittelsohn, adapted

In the rising of the sun and in its going down we will remember her.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter we will remember her.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring we will remember her.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer we will remember her.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn we will remember her.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends we will remember her.
When we are weary and in need of strength we will remember her.
When we are lost and sick at heart we will remember her.
When we have joys we yearn to share we will remember her.
So long as we live she, too, shall live, for she is now a part of us as we remember her.
In our remembering is life eternal.

3. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heavens:
a time to plant, and a time to uproot;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to pull down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them up;
a time to embrace, and a time to let go;
a time to search, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to discard;
a time to tear, and a time to mend;
a time for silence, and a time to speak;
a time for love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace;
a time to be born, and a time to die.

4. “On Death” – From Kalil Gibran’s The Prophet

Than Almitra spoke, saying, “We would ask now of Death.”
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the sheered not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink form the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

 

5. Psalm 1:1

It is well for the person who did not follow the advice of evil,
And in the paths of evil did not stand,
And who did not sit among the cynics.
And they will be as trees planted by the waters
Which bring forth fruits in their time;
And their leaves are not withered,
And in all that they do they will triumph.

(English: H. Hartman, from Yiddish poet Yehoyish’s translation of Psalm 1:1)

 

6. Keep me in your heart – by Warren Zevon & Jorge Calderon

Shadows are fallin’ and I’m runnin’ out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while
When you get up in the mornin’ and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while
There’s a train leavin’ nightly called “When All is Said and Done”
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Sometimes when you’re doin’ simple things around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile
You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while
Hold me in your thoughts
Take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes
Keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you
Engine driver’s headed north up to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for a while
These wheels keep turnin’ but they’re runnin’ out of steam
Keep me in your heart for a while

 

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