Can a gentile say Kaddish? Is it blessing enough to say it only once, at the burial? And what if the minyan -- the traditional gathering of at least ten Jewish men required to say Kaddish -- is neither Jewish, nor 100 percent male?
The story Nemes invents: that of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, who when he sees a boy being murdered (apparently his son) becomes determined, and then obsessed, to give the boy a religious burial.
The Ba'al Tefila (prayer leader) was old, probably in his 80s, his complexion wan, his hair snow white and thin, his posture stooped, but his voice was strong enough to reach every part of the large main sanctuary.
Saying Kaddish showed me that I can assert my voice in religious spaces, something that I had never tried to do before. It showed my community that I am a full member, despite being a girl, dedicated to Judaism and its dictates.
Though those who were killed in transphobic acts of violence in the past year may not have been known to us personally, many of us hold their memories in our minds and hearts as fallen brothers and sisters, so the recitation of the Kaddish seems especially fitting.
Rabbi Carlebach used music to reach and inspire people. Following death, we all need to forge our own paths to get back to the Garden. For some its music, for others it is community and for still others it is just takes time.
Last week, 15 narrow-minded men tried to outlaw women saying the Kaddish at the Western Wall. There was so much blowback that they rescinded their ban. I cannot imagine, I do not want to imagine, that we have returned to a time where being a woman is both demeaning and dangerous.
It's hard to believe, but you can be arrested for singing the Sh'ma out loud at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, considered the holiest site in the Jewish world. You can be arrested -- if you are a woman.
After a lifetime of not thinking about it much, I suddenly stumbled into Holocaust memories, and now they are tangled around me. They are not my memories, but their meaning is part of my life. It has to be.