For many years, the flow of our Yom Kippur afternoon was directed by our congregation’s machzor, Gates of Repentance. In mid-afternoon, we would engage in a study session, followed by a Yizkor service. Yizkor is a time of remembering family and friends who have died; a somber service of reflection and sadness; a communal sharing of our personal losses.
In the past, we included in our Yizkor service a remembrance of martyrs of the Jewish people. Entitled Eileh Ezk’rah, we would recall the ten rabbis cruelly murdered by the Romans; the communities of Jews massacred during the Crusades; and the millions of our people killed during the Holocaust. Eileh Ezk’rah is deeply affecting as we honor the memories of those who died “Al Kiddush HaShem,” for the sanctification of God’s name.
This year, on Yom Kippur afternoon, the Yizkor service will not include Eileh Ezk’rah. Instead our new machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh, has expanded services for each and hence the two services will be separated rather than combined.
At 3pm on Yom Kippur afternoon, there will be a brief study session for approximately 15 minutes. Then we will hold a service for remembering martyrs. This Eileh Ezk’rah service not only speaks of the past, but also those who have died more recently. We will remember those whose lives serve as inspirations of our people’s most cherished ideals.
At 4pm, we will hold our Yizkor service. There will be prayers and songs that will be familiar, as well as components of the service that will be strikingly new. As with all of our services for the High Holy Days, the intent with our new machzor is to speak to the hearts and souls of our congregation and for us to embrace the Days of Awe with reverence and meaning.
G’mar Chatimah Tovah: may you and your loved ones be inscribed for a sweet and peaceful New Year.