A Month of Yahrzeit

September 29, 2008 at 2:09 am (books, Family, Remembrance, Spiritual)

I have been thinking about death a lot lately. This is partly due to a book I have just finished, and another that I am currrently in the middle of. The two titles, respectively, are The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes.

Set in the south of Germany during the Second World War, The Book Thief is narrated by Death itself. It is an immensely powerful novel. The Barnes book is part memoir, part the author’s rumination on various aspects of death, and especially on how to face the inevitable when religious faith has been abandoned. Compelling as it is, I am having to read it in discreet chunks.

I’ll have more to say about both of these books in later posts. But meanwhile, I’d like to pay tribute to the memory of my father, my father-in-law, and my sister-in-law, all of whom passed away in the month of October between the years 2000 and 2003.

I am constantly kicking at  the traces that still bind me to the religion I was born into. But Judaism still exerts a hold on me. I have always liked the custom of lighting the Yahrzeit candle to commemorate the anniversary of the death of a loved one. That person’s soul glows in the taper’s light. Every time you gaze on it, you remember.

And so, this is for the three above named people, each of them beloved, each of them missed.


  1. katy said,

    ive been reading your book ” the book thief” and i think it is interesting on how you use the english language and the german language. i also think it is interesting on how you tell the story from a soul taker. pretty interesting.
    also, i understand how the girl feels. its hard to be in new place. anyways im really enjoying the book and cant wait to see what happens next

  2. Jill said,

    My sophomore honors English class is currently reading “The Book Thief”, it is an amazing book!!!!! And a must read!!!!! 🙂

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