Some of the lesser-known tenets within the Jewish faith are those having to do with death, mourning, and the afterlife. They are not necessarily topics that are covered in Hebrew school, and many Jews do not start wondering about them until they are asked a question about ‘what Jews believe’ or if there is a death in the family.
When Lori Palatnik came to realize that this absence of knowledge existed, she sought to change that with her book Remember My Soul: What To Do In Memory Of A Loved One, written in conjunction with her husband Rabbi Yaakov Palatnik. When Jewish people do not know how to answer questions about what they believe – there is a problem. Rabbi Yaakov and Lori Palatnik have filled the void and offered their readers comprehensive answers, based in tradition, to questions about death, mourning and the afterlife.
Remember My Soul contains chapters covering what happens to the Jewish soul after death, how to honor the memory of a loved one, and the observance of shiva and mourning. Also included are real life experiences demonstrating how knowledge of the Jewish mourning process and Jewish beliefs on afterlife helped individuals through the grieving process.
I found this book to be tremendously helpful, filled with Jewish wisdom, and even inspiring. The practical suggestions on how to pay a Shiva call and what is expected of visitors and mourners stems from ancient tradition with the purpose of bringing comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable and difficult space.
When Lori Palatnik writes, it’s like reading poetry. Something tremendously painful becomes filled with beauty. When she explains the purpose behind the memorial candle, for example, she tells how the flame is likened to a person’s soul. We each bring light to the world, and it is possible to share our light without diminishing it. The flame, like our soul, reaches toward Heaven while remaining grounded and rooted here on Earth. The candle is a reminder that our souls are eternal. While she did not create the notion of the flame and the soul, the manner in which she writes about it is fresh, invigorating, and comforting.
There is a fabulous section in Remember My Soul called “What To Do In Memory Of A Loved One”. Our actions in the physical world continue to add to the merit of our deceased loved ones. This chapter takes the mourner through the Shloshim period (first thirty days) with guided prayer and journal exercises. You’ll read a passage on – say – ‘judging others’ or ‘who is G-d’ and will then have an opportunity to write on that topic and your loved one. I love this section of the book and the value that it offers readers. Beyond the wisdom and tradition the Palatniks share, readers are given this action plan to help them find their way through grief.
I would have preferred that this chapter be at the conclusion of the book, after learning about death and mourning. The chapter contains thirty days of exercises, and it just makes sense that you would want to read the rest of the book prior to beginning this section.
On day 30, the topic of ‘struggling with G-d’ is discussed. Struggling is our inheritance, and the literal meaning of the word Yisrael. When faced with death, we often question the purpose of living and feel anger toward G-d for allowing death to happen. This is a normal part of grief, of Judaism, and of life. Rabbi Yaakov and Lori Palatnik not only help us to see that, but help guide us through to the point of embracing life again and of helping to make the memory of our loved one be for a blessing.
This book was a book I purchased on my own. I decided to write a review on it because it was so helpful to me. I would like others to know about it and benefit from it.
You can purchase this book at Amazon: