Editor’s Note: Alden Solovy writes the “To Bend Light” blog, where this essay originally appeared. He gave Jewish Sacred Aging permission to reprint it here. Solovy was a guest on the Seekers of Meaning Podcast in July. You can hear that conversation here.
As the Jewish world mourns the murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, a group of private individuals are preparing themselves to perform taharot. Taharah (taharot, pl) is the ritual preparation of a body for burial. It’s a sacred task that takes a special individual. These will be particularly difficult taharot, given the brutality of the deaths. It’s my hope that in praying for those who are conducting this holy act, we find a bit of solace for ourselves.
Rock of Comfort,
Redeemer of Israel,
Grant Your protection and care
To those who are preparing the dead for burial,
Gently washing wounded bodies
With love and water,
Praying for the souls of the innocent
To find peace on the journey
To heavenly spheres.
So much loss.
So much blood.
So many wounds.
These unnamed servants of our people
Come in quiet devotion,
With gentle prayers,
Serving the dead with the work of their hands,
So that the living can grieve
And that souls can find rest.
Grant them an extra share of steadfast strength
As they bless the lost with the gift given in reverence
White is the clothing of the dead.
Sorrow is the clothing of the living.
Let the taharot in Pittsburgh become a beacon of love,
A radiance of healing,
And a source of comfort for all.
© 2018 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com.