“Magnified and sanctified is God’s Holy Name.”
That’s a translation of the phrase that topped the front page of Friday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“These are the first words of the Jewish mourners’ prayer, which will be recited tonight on the first Sabbath since the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting,” the paper explained.
The prayer, the Mourner’s Kaddish, is traditionally recited for 11 months following the death of a parent or close relative or on the anniversary of the death of a parent or close relative. It’s recited at every Jewish service, on the Sabbath and during holidays.
The prayer is in Aramaic, which is similar to Hebrew, and shows up in different versions, including the Burial Kaddish, which is recited during funerals. (You can read the full prayer here.)
However, the prayer doesn’t even mention death.
Instead, it celebrates two of the hardest things to remember during times of grief: the existence of God and the power of community.
It proclaims God’s existence
The prayer is a praise to God and affirms God’s existence.
“When you’re mourning, one of the hardest things to do is proclaim God’s greatness in the universe,” said Rabbi Daniel Dorsch of Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta, Georgia. “You feel alienated, you feel upset.”
Jews around the world have been grieving since a gunman killed 11 worshipers last Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue.
“For somebody who’s going through pain in their life to exclaim the fact that there’s a God in the universe,” Dorsch added, “is a very powerful statement.”
And reminds us of the power of community
Here’s what else is special about it: The Kaddish can only be recited with a minyan present — a quorum of 10 Jewish adults.
That, Dorsch said, helps people feel connected.
“Jews are not allowed to mourn in isolation,” he said. “You need to be part of the community. It elevates you by forcing you to be a part of the community.”
It’s what the Jewish community needs right now, Dorsch said.
A worldwide #ShowUpForShabbat campaign is encouraging people of all faiths to attend Shabbat services at synagogues Friday evening and Saturday to show support for the Jewish community.
“We are in a state of mourning,” Dorsch said. “There will be a very powerful moment this Shabbat, when we say the phrase surrounded not only by the Jewish community but with the support of our allies.”
“Far from feeling alone,” he said, “we’re going to feel like the world is with us, and that’s a very beautiful thing.”