Elul Reflections 18 – September 9

Why My Mother Cried
April Akiva, R.J.E.

Each year, while preparing for the High Holy Days, my mother would blast Avinu Malkeinu over the stereo and sob.  I can clearly remember her sitting on the edge of the stairs crying her eyes out, as if someone had just passed away.  She would set the table with a white cloth her late mother had embroidered and cry some more.  Her tears made me uncomfortable and irritated—I couldn’t understand why she had to act so melancholy before the holidays.  
Years later, I invited my mother and her sister over for Rosh Hashanah dinner.  By this point in time, my mother’s health and mental acuity had deteriorated, so her somber moments were few and far between. My table was adorned with the embroidered white tablecloth.  Upon seeing it, my aunt began to cry and call out for her mother.  I let her cry—I didn’t know what else to say or do.
While setting my table for the first Rosh Hashanah after my mother’s passing, I kept the tradition of blasting Avinu Malkeinu over my stereo. And as I took out the family tablecloth, I completely lost it.  Despite my children being in the room, I could not help myself from crying deep, painful sobs.  It wasn’t until that moment that I understood why my mother had cried all those years.
Traditions surrounding the holidays are beautiful and uplifting, but at the same time they can bring out deep emotions from within.  These traditions endure, forever connecting us to those who came before us. I’ve come to realize that it is sometimes alright to shed tears amidst the joy.


Comments are closed.