Kaddish became a daily tradition for Mark Leinkram, a publisher-printer from Clifton, N.J., after his sister Sharon died of cancer last year. Not from an observant family, he faithfully recited the Aramaic mourner’s prayer, but didn’t understand all the meaning behind it.
Now he’s starting to learn.
Leinkram, 50, is one of the first to turn to mykaddish.com, an on-line resource guide established last week by Partners in Torah, an educational outreach organization affiliated with Torah Umesorah, and by the incubator Afikim Foundation.
Mykaddish.com, the first-such Web site devoted to the prayer recited during the initial year of mourning and on subsequent yahrzeit anniversaries, offers an eclectic variety of learned-but-accessible insights into the entire mourning-and-memorial process, chances to study the traditions in person
or over the phone with a tutor, and a guide to local synagogues where kaddish may be recited.
Much of the text in the Web site is adapted from Lori Palatnik’s “Remember My Soul” (Khal, 2008).
“When somebody passes, it hurts,” Leinkram says. “The Web site … opens up a lot of doors.”
“Nowadays, people are looking for information on the Internet. They’re not going to buy a book,” says Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenbaum, associate director of the National Jewish Outreach Program, which sponsors similar remedial activities. “Too often, people don’t know what kaddish is.”
Leinkram learned about mykaddish.com from Rabbi Eli Gewirtz, national director of Partners in Torah and a friend of Leinkram’s sister.
“So many people, when they are going through a period of mourning, are searching for something that is meaningful,” says Rabbi Gewirtz, who established the Web site with rabbis Shimon Apisdorf and Raphael Butler.
In earlier decades, kaddish entered popular culture as the title of a Leonard Bernstein symphony and a Allen Ginsberg poem.
In the last decade, it has become a symbol of Jews connecting or reconnecting with Jewish tradition, the subject of books by such people as authors Leon Wieseltier and Anita Diamant, journalist Ari Goldman, and rabbis Gedalia Zweig and Kerry Olitzky.
In this year of mourning, Leinkram says, mykaddish.com is helping him deal with his loss. He’s set up a weekly learning session about kaddish with a partner he met through Partners in Torah, and he has established a memorial page on the Web site for his sister. “She’ll never be forgotten.”