“A day-old infant who dies is to her father and mother like a full bride.” (The rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic.)
In one of the brightest days in June we lost our twin girls. In our darkest hour, we thought we may never again feel the warmth of the sun. Yet, here we are—in the dark days of winter, on the solstice, no less, celebrating LIGHT. Today, we remember “Nes Gadol Haya Sham“—a great miracle happened there. We thank God for the miracle of The holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem following its conquest by the Syrians in 165 BCE. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles in a hanukiyah oon each of eight nights. Other customs include the eating of fried foods such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly donuts), playing dreidl (a gambling game with a spinning top), and, in present day America, gift giving., and for the miracle of our own lives and those of Am Yisrael.
Yet, a miracle does not happen every time. The twins will not grow to become part of _______________’s family. We will never truly KNOW these neshamas (souls) that came so close to us. But we can acknowledge their arrival in this world, and mourn their passing.
This family mourns the loss of the infants for whom they waited, for whom they dreamed. They grieve for what might have been, the hands they longed to hold, the faces they longed to kiss. Their arms hold no small lives; their hearts are filled with sadness. We are confounded by the overwhelming mystery of death, by our inability to shape life to our wishes.
While deep inside my womb, I gave the babies names—silent names. Names that now have no bodies. Yet these names have souls to cleave to. Every utterance is a creation. Please honor us today as eidim (witnesses) to our daughters’ names.
Our daughter who was born alive was known to us, and shall be remembered as: ___________bat_______v’_______ Zichrona Livracha. May her memory be for a blessing.
Mother speaks briefly about name.
God, accept into the warmth of Your eternal embrace our child, who lived only within our family’s embrace. Hold her close beneath Your wing.
Our daughter who knew life only within my womb was known to us, and shall be remembered as: ___________bat_________v’______ Zichrona Livracha. May her memory be for a blessing.
Mother speaks briefly about name.
We pray that our ____________ now dwells with God. God, accept into the warmth of Your eternal embrace our child, who lived only within our family’s embrace. Hold her close beneath Your wing.
El Malei Rachamim, God filled with compassion, dwelling on high, grant perfect rest under the wings of the The feminine name of God, expounded upon in the rabbinic era and then by the Kabbalists in extensive literature on the feminine attributes of the divine. to the souls of _______ and _______. Place these smallest of beginnings, tiny and tender roots, who were so desired and loved, among the holy and pure ones who shine brilliantly as the heavens.
** (Together, we all lift the A four-cornered garment to which ritual fringes (tzitzit/tzitzi'ot) are affixed. The knots in the fringes represent the name of God and remind us of God's commandments. The tallit is worn during prayer and can also be drawn about oneself or around the bride and groom to symbolize divine protection. above our heads.) **
Under this tallit we feel Honor, as in kavod av v’em, honoring one’s parents, kavod ha’met, respect for the dead, kavod hatorah, the honor of the Torah.—honor and respect for that which dwells on high, and Havdel—the separation between the heavens and the earth. In Pirke Avot we learn, “Who is truly happy? The person happy in his own portion.”
On this first day of Hanukkah, we acknowledge that the greatest miracle is our lives and that of our families. With this gesture, we reaffirm our Jewish home, our family, and our love for each other.
Please say together, with us, the Shehecheyanu.
Holy One of Blessing, Your presence fills creation. You have kept us alive, You have sustained us, You have brought us to this moment.