Over the years I attended shul and sometimes belonged, but my involvement
was minimal. Work made coming to shul during the week impossible. I
was intimidated by my lack of prayer knowledge and the thought of being
treated brusquely by minyan regulars deterred me from going.
I came to TBA in 1989. In 1994 I received a call from Herb Marcus, of
blessed memory, who told me that someone had lost his wife and they
needed me to make a minyan. He asked me to come to daily minyan for a
short time. I agreed. Once I started attending, I never stopped. All of the
perceived road blocks evaporated in the face of my actual attendance and
Jewish tradition requires at least ten Jews to pray together. At our
egalitarian minyan, both men and women count and participate. It is
enormously moving to see and to hear people speak about their experiences
of coming to the minyan shattered by the loss of a loved one, as they find
solace in the warm environment of the minyan and in the support it offers.
As my knowledge of Judaism grew, I came to believe in the importance
of saying Kaddish for loved ones. When my parents died, I attended
regularly. When I was caught in rush hour traffic on my way to the
afternoon minyan, I was miraculously able to make it. There were people
who came to the minyan so I could say Kaddish when my need to do so was
so overwhelming. Now I can be there for those whose need to say Kaddish
is as great as was mine.
I am grateful for our daily minyan and for those who attend it. It is but
one expression of what is best about being a part of a loving and caring
Sitting on the aircraft returning to Los Angeles after having
completed the Shiva period for my beloved mother, I pondered
and agonized whether or not I would continue saying daily
Kaddish for the remainder of the 11 month mourning period.
The temple I had occasionally been going to over the last years
only conducted Friday night services, so even if I wanted to,
where would I go?
As the ﬂight touched down at LAX in the early afternoon,
I knew instinctively that I wanted to say Kaddish that very
afternoon/ evening. I quickly had to fi nd a place to do this
as the sun was beginning to set. Suddenly I remembered that
there was this Temple on La Cienega Blvd. where I had been
to a bar-mitzvah several years ago. I rushed down La Cienega,
and arriving at Temple Beth Am was guided to the smaller Pilch
Hall, where the Mincha/Maariv Service was about to begin.
One is immediately struck by the intimate and comforting
aura of the space and how respectfully Kaddish was said by the
mourners present. I knew I would be back.
As the commitment to continue saying Kaddish crystallized,
it became necessary to explore other synagogues in the area
I lived and worked in due to time and geographic constraints
and challenges. Saying Kadish daily becomes such a sensitive
focal point of each service, automatically one is aware of the
decorum of the space in which you are saying this holy prayer.
It becomes so important to fi nd a home and shul environment
where you can do this comfortably and in the most meaningful
and nurturing way. The amazing plethora of different
synagogues in L.A. opened before me, and as the months went
by a path of serious “shul hopping” commenced.
This path always led me back to Temple Beth Am. It is here
at the daily minyan and Shabbat services where, 24/7 twice a
day, I always found a comfortable space to pray and a decorum
where Kaddish is said loudly, slowly, in unison with attention
dignity and respect.
And so too a path of return to Judaism commenced for me,
as at each service at Temple Beth Am something is learned
each time, whether it be a relevant text jumping out at you,
our Rabbis words during the service, or their meaningful and
It is amazing, that stemming from the grief and sadness
of my mother’s death, an event of such positive enormity
could emanate. For, in her death she has left me with a most
powerful legacy. In saying Kadish for her, not only has it led
me to fi nd Temple Beth Am, but set me off on embarking on
a rich and awesome journey, a journey back to our treasured
Towards the end of the eleven months that I said Kaddish in your honor, the Rabbi mentioned during Shacharit services that Thanksgiving is one of the hardest Mincha services to fi ll with a Minyan. If our Thanksgiving meals did not coincide with Mincha, he requested that we make an effort to attend that service. When the time arrived our plans did not conflict. I assumed I would be attending THAT particular Minyan in honor of others within their Shiva week or fi rst month of Kaddish, or maybe within their eleven months or year.
Since I had been attending Daily Minyan in the morning every day, I knew there were other people who couldn’t attend Shacharit but attended Mincha in honor of their loved one. So I went to the Mincha service on that particular day to be counted. Slowly the room filled to reach and surpass a Minyan. One family brought three members, several other families two people, a few individuals arrived, and there were some regulars as well.
ALL of these people made an effort to come on one of the most difficult days to roust up a Minyan. They had come to be counted. Other then the few regulars who knew me from the morning Minyan, no one else knew who needed to say Kaddish. They just knew that if they did not attend there might not be a Minyan. They knew that if they were not counted that day, someone might not be able to say Kaddish as part of their community.
I was the only one saying Kaddish that Mincha. It was both humbling and inspiring at the same time. That is the power of ten. That is the power of community. People driven to attend a service on a day that few want to attend, motivated by their concern for other people. That day, I happened to be the benefi ciary of many kindnesses, that Ahad Haam.
-Teri Cohan Link