Do Paths Diverge? Is there a Fork in the Road? or Do Paths Run Together Again?
Now in my early 50’s, I’ve lived longer than either of my parents did. My dad died at 44 and my mom died at 48, just before my 20th birthday.
Over the years, particularly on those challenging parenting days, I often thought about how my parents managed family, work, life. I could compare myself to them, or more accurately, see myself in relation to them, in their light. I appreciated and understood my parents on more complex levels with a deeper and wider perspective. We shared common experiences of raising kids, running around, the never-ending list of things to do with limited resources and energy.
My future, however is truly my own. My parents and I will not share aging. We wont have the common experiences of launching adult children into the world. The pull and push of nurturing and separating. Of, God willing, grandchildren. Of physical decline. Of losing family and friends in a sad, steady stream. My parents and I will have less and less in common as my life unfolds in ways that theirs did not. I won’t be able to see myself in their light in the same way.
I was once asked who finished raising me. I did much of the hard work, but in retrospect, my parents were still holding the map and the flashlight.
Judaism teaches that the part of us which is Divine, the soul of our soul, is eternal and continues on through realms beyond our comprehension. We learn that souls merit from our good deeds. That souls can communicate with us if they choose to and if we are open to it. Many people have experienced a moment, a voice, a sense that there was a presence accompanying them.
I can’t identify a specific moment where I felt a presence. I may not have recognized it at the time, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I want to be believe that they – those who are gone – are aware of us. When I have the opportunity, I silently dedicate a learning session in my parents’ names. I wonder if they are with me. If they are no longer holding the map, do they at least still have the flashlight? Do they know the choices I have made and what I am doing? Do they have any advice to offer me as I write the next chapters of my story? And will I be able to hear them?
Dedicated to the memory of Gershon ben Aharon v’Sarah, 37th Yahrzeit, 3 Sivan 5775
Rena Boroditsky is the Executive Director of the “>Kavod v'Nichum conferences and at Limmud events in the US & Canada. She recently launched Death Cafe Wnnipeg. She has served in past as a board member of “>Gamliel Institute. Rena is a member of the first graduating class of the Gamliel Institute, having completed the required studies and projects, and she has returned recently from the inaugural Israel Study Mission which is the heart of the sixth course in the Gamliel Institute curriculum, International Perspectives.
A TASTE OF GAMLIEL – 5775
The first session (RabbiT’mimah Ickovits) was Sunday February 1st, the second (Dr. Eitan Fishbane) on March 1st, the third (Rabbi Dr. Burton Visotzky) on March 29th. The fourth session featured Rabbi Dr. Goldie Milgram on May 20th.
The fifth and final session will be on SUNDAY, June 7th at 8 pm EST/5 pm PST. It will feature Rabbi Elie Spitz, author of the newly revised book, Does the Soul Survive?.
All sessions are recorded and available for (re-)viewing by those who are registered. If you register now, you will have access to all five sessions.
UPCOMING GAMLIEL INSTITUTE COURSES
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Chevrah Kadisha: History, Origins, & Evolution (HOE). Tuesdays, 12 online sessions (orientation session Monday October 12th, classes Tuesdays from October 13th to December 29th, 8-9:30 pm EST/5-6:30 pm PST. An examination of the modern Chevrah Kadisha from 1626 in Prague, through history and geography, as imported to Europe and the world, brought to the US, and as it has developed and changed over time, bringing us up to the present, including text study, history, sociology, politics, and other factors.
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