May the One who blessed our ancestors, Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., Abraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak., Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., The first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka., Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. and The third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah. and all those who came after them, bless those of us living in the shadow of the valley of death, left behind because of the suffering of a dear soul who took their own life.
May our connection with the One who is the Source of All Blessing, continually remind us that our memories of our loved ones are for a blessing. Zikhronam livrakhah. May we be able to look at their life and not only their suffering and death. May we learn to understand in time that memories of their life bless our days. May we know through our memories of their life, they too, are blessed wherever they rest. May they be protected by the God of Compassion.
When the memories of their life’s suffering come to us, give us the strength and courage to feel compassion and love for them. Help us feel the companionship of families, friends, ancestors and the Divine Presence to protect and nourish us in times of distress. May we find the healing possible through sharing our whole experience with others, including feelings of regret and shame, relief and anger, grief and sorrow, unanswered questions, and deep love.
Source of All Life, surround us with grace and spread over us a sukkat shalom, a shelter of peace and wholeness. And let us say Amen.