Monday, September 30, 2013

Whispering My Father's Kaddish

This was originally posted on The Sisterhood. Yup, that's Mayim Bialik's writing next to mine.

August 27, 2013. It was my second day of college, the last day of saying Kaddish for my dad. When I went to Shacharit at the Hillel, the chazzan asked me if I wanted to say the prayer on my own or along with a man. I did want to say it by myself; it would have been the first time that I had ever done so. On the other hand, I was scared to do it solo.

As a feminist, I wanted to say the Kaddish alone in order to assert my voice and show that I am a member of the community. Since I was the only person on the women’s side of the mechitzah, I didn’t feel like I was part of any community. I felt like an outsider, a spectator rather than an active participant in the prayers. This isolation and consequent fear and intimidation crippled me, making me terrified to raise my feminine voice and say Kaddish alone in front of a group of men. So I whispered my own father’s Kaddish while a man, someone who I don’t even know, said it out loud.


  1. Sad. Speaking as a Conservative Jew, I see a kind of sorry circle--Orthodox women don't go to shul because . . . Orthodox women don't go to shul. Yes, there are often small children who take priority, but that doesn't explain why a never-married Orthodox female co-worker of mine stays home almost every Shabbat. How can there be any community on the women's side of the mechitzah when there's only one woman? I wish you had had a better experience saying kaddish. Losing your father was hard enough.

    1. In general, my experience saying Kaddish wasn't this isolated, if only because the only other times I said Kaddish was on times when there were a lot of people in an Orthodox woman, those would be the only times I made it there. :P

  2. Speaking of isolating experiences in saying Kaddish, maybe I should have thought to submit an edited version of this post to The Sisterhood.