Elchanan Poupko

Kaddish for October 7th

Israelis mourn next to the graves of Danielle Waldman and her partner Noam Shai, during their funeral in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Tivon, October 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Kaddish for October 7th is the Kaddish we will never say. 

It is the Kaddish of mothers who will no longer see their children. 

It is a Kaddish for parents who do not know if their children are dead or alive. 

It is a Kaddish for the Kibbutz who thought that it was almost safe but will never think so again. 

It is the Kaddish for the three generations massacred together in the same house with no one left to say Kaddish. 

It is the Kaddish for the baby that was still in its mother’s womb, waiting to be welcomed into this world who was welcomed by a machete and a bloodthirsty killer who made the baby’s moment of birth and death be the same one. 

It is a Kaddish for a holiday of joy–Simchat Torah–which will never again be celebrated in innocent and untainted joy.

It is a Kadish for Israel’s cities who thought they were surely out of harm’s way, rudely awakened by killer-filled pickup trucks. 

It is a Kaddish for Kaddish itself, unable to be uttered by those so deeply scared by the trauma that silence is their only resort. 

A Kaddish for October 7th is a Kaddish for a bus full of pensioners on their way to a friendly trip, massacred in unthinkable cruelty; it is a Kaddish for children whose father will never be able to take them to school, babies who will never get to know their mother, soldiers whose final battle caught them in bed and unarmed, and so many others gunned down mercilessly. 

A Kaddish for October 7th is a Kaddish for children whose bodies have survived but whose innocence has died. They waited in a closet for nine hours while hearing the harrowing sounds of their families killed; they hid under beds in puddles of blood, they hid under bodies pretending to be dead, as their innocence was killed by Hamas terrorists. 

A Kaddish for October 7th is a Kaddish for couples burned alive while hugging one another, for dead bodies–dismembered, beheaded, and destroyed— not given rest even after their tragic death.

A Kaddish for October 7th is a Kaddish for families torn between the two cruelest of choices—hope their relatives might be dead or in the sadistic hands of Hamas in Gaza. 

A Kaddish for October 7th is a Kaddish for an Israel and Jewish people who will never be the same as they were before that fateful day, which changed us forever. 

Yitgadal Ve’yitkadash Shme’eh Rabbah. 

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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