Yael Eckstein on Remembering My Father One Year After His Passing

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. | (Photo: Courtesy of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews)

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It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since my dear father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, left this world.

My father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, but it was my heart that was shattered. I spoke to him every Friday before Shabbat and several times during the week. He was at every family birthday party and we spent all of the holidays together. I also had the privilege of working with my father at The Fellowship for 15 years. I simply couldn’t imagine life without him.

A Lasting Memorial

After the Shiva, the week of mourning, I started a tradition with my family every Friday evening. Jews light Sabbath candles at sundown, and we decided to light a memorial candle in honor of my father at this time every week. Once the candles were lit, we shared memories of my father and spent a few moments remembering the love and light that he brought to our lives.

This sacred time each week helped us through our journey of mourning. Recently it occurred to me how much our weekly commemorations have changed. When we began this custom, the moments were bittersweet – more bitter than sweet. I took comfort in the memories but they also underscored how much I had lost.

Yet, sometime in the past year, I realized that I hadn’t really lost my father. In some ways, I feel his presence more than I ever did before.

‘Love is Strong as Death’

In the Jewish tradition, we believe that a righteous person is considered even more “alive” after death than when they were living. This is because when a soul is in a body, it is confined by time, space, and all physical limitations. When my father was alive, either he was with me or he was not. But when a soul is freed from the body, it is like a light that can shine brightly anywhere at any time.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Yael Eckstein