Yizkor 5776

October 8, 2015

Surfing the web I came across the following paragraphs:

The importance of leaving a legacy for your loved ones is about more than just the money in the bank and the “stuff” you leave behind. Too often, we don’t know the significance of the  heirlooms we inherit — the old album full of photos, old watches, jewelry and knickknacks. It is the telling of your stories that creates sentimental value in a personal item and makes that item a family  heirloom.

This was recently made very clear in Lynne Palazzi’s piece from the November issue of Country Living magazine. Palazzi traces the evolution of her mother’s ongoing project that has become an invaluable heirloom for her family. Her mother’s tablecloth, and the countless hours she put into it, had finally grown into a story well worth telling, Palazzi says.

In 1979, when my mother was 53, she began a project that had real staying power. She bought a white flat bed sheet, cut it to fit our oval dining table, and added a border of lace. With that, the sheet became a tablecloth. Anyone who joined us for dinner would sign their names and maybe even write a message. Later, Mom embroidered over the signatures and sentiments, creating a permanent record of every dinner party or holiday meal shared in our Pennsylvania home.

With humor and affection, Palazzi describes her mother as the editor-in-chief. Before visitors sign, she asks that they please write in cursive—block letters require too much stopping and starting as she stitches. She corrects grammar (when my grandmother wrote, “The best meals in town is on this table,” Mom lovingly changed the verb to “are”) and clips long- winded dedications (one friend penned a “roses are red” poem, and my mom took out all but one line: “Vivian is sweet”). My brother-in-law sketched a turkey one Thanksgiving; later, Mom added lines of steam rising from it. A dentist friend drew a tooth; Mom gave it a cavity”.

I liked this story

Our tradition has a special treasure. It is called Izkor. Izkor is the time when we can invite our relatives to our table again.

Izkor is the time when we bring them back to life through our memory.

Izkor is the time when we read carefully the sentences each of our loved ones wrote in our tablecloth.

Each tablecloth has the lines all those who were guests in our lives wrote.

And we know that life is a short tablecloth as Rabbi Salanter said.

Because we wanted to have them here longer.

We wished they could have live longer.

We wished their tablecloth wasn’t that short!!!

We wished they could have written one more line or draw one more picture on our tablecloth. But the tablecloth is short, always short.

And Izkor gives us the possibility, one more time to sit down with them. To bring them back to life in our hearts.

Many of you lost your parents recently. Or a brother or a sister. What would you give in order to have them back for an hour, to hug them, to tell them how much you love them!!!???

I am sure you would love to see your grandmother writing a recipe on you table cloth. Or your grandfather teaching you some Yidish words. Or your father giving you the right advice. Maybe your mother sitting next to you, helping you with homework or just giving you some of her endless love.

You have the opportunity now to sit next to them, at your table and to draw one more image on your tablecloth.