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Each Person, A World: Jewish Lives Lost to the Coronavirus

Every soul, the Torah teaches, is an entire world. It is the duty of the living to remember the deceased and all the good they did.
[additional-authors]
August 20, 2020

This project is a partnership between Chabad.org and participating outlets. 

In Jewish tradition, an individual’s death is the entire community’s loss and so is communally mourned. The Chevra Kadisha burial society prepares the deceased; Kaddish is recited with a prayer quorum; shiva brings together family, friends and neighbors. The coronavirus has made so much of this impossible: In many places, members of the Chevra Kadisha now wear Hazmat suits; Kaddish has been postponed; shiva calls come via Zoom.

Yet the loss remains the same. Every soul, the Torah teaches, is an entire world. It is the duty of the living to remember the deceased and all the good they did. Memories must be recorded, obituaries written, and headstones erected. Most importantly, we must take to heart lessons from the way those now gone led their lives during the time allotted them by G‑d.

In response to a family requesting guidance on the language for their deceased father’s gravestone, the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—wrote, in Hebrew, that this was important, but above all, they must remember that the monument and the words inscribed were but of stone. For “the offspring of the departed are a living monument. Their deeds and behavior in their everyday lives … act as a living inscription on a living monument; the wording of this inscription is in their hands, and only theirs.”

The losses have hit the entire Jewish people, no matter which community, level of observance or socio-economic status, underlining the intrinsic unity of the Jewish nation. Since Passover of 2020, Chabad.org has been working on an ambitious project to record and recall every member of the Jewish community who has perished during this plague. 

If you have lost someone dear to you, or know someone who has, we invite you to share their story here.

If you are unable to recite Kaddish for a loved one, visit the Coronavirus Quarantine Kaddish Service page here.

May the memory of those who have passed be a blessing for the Jewish people and all humankind, and their stories a living legacy for all. To learn more about the story behind “Each Person, a World,” click hereTo have a name added click here. For correction, leave a comment below.

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