We all know God is not a Christian, right? Or least most of us know that.
I was given fresh proof on Tuesday at the funeral for Leatrice Round, beloved mother of my friend Ivan. At the funeral home, I met Nick Bliley, one of the Bliley Brothers who have operated funeral homes in Richmond for a long time. As we chatted, he told me about his life as a faithful Catholic. He has been a longtime member and leader at St. Edward Catholic Church in suburban Richmond.
Then he said to me, “You’ll really like Rabbi Creditor. He is so real. I always try to be here when he officiates at funerals. In fact, I’d be honored if Rabbi Creditor would preside at my service. I can think of no one better.”
I was touched at that, but was unprepared for what happened at the cemetery. As is customary, the assembled mourners said Kaddish together at the end of the interment service. Nick eagerly handed out cards for all of us to read from–Hebrew on one side, phonetic letters on the other (see picture showing the Hebrew).
I joined the others, stumbling some because I only say this prayer when I join my Jonathan at services at Congregation Or Ami (Kaddish is said at services for those to be remembered because it is an anniversary of their death). I was glad, indeed honored, to do it, especially to join Ivan and his father and family as they tearfully spoke these immortal words.
On my way out, one of Nick’s staff stopped me to say thank you coming to the funeral and the interment. He asked me how I knew the family. I told him about Ivan, born and raised Jewish, who decided some years ago to join Metrop0litan Community Church, because he felt he needed to be part of a congregation with many LGBT folks.
He again thanked me for coming, and then he told me something really wonderful. He said, “You know Nick recites Kaddish in Hebrew by heart–he doesn’t need the card at all. He has made it a point to be able to do so, because he knows God is God of all, and he truly admires Rabbi Creditor and other rabbis here too, and he really cherishes his many Jewish friends.”
Thank you, Nick Bliley, and Ivan Round, too, for reminding me about what is truly important in life, who God is and how God works.
And just in case you don’t know Kaddish, here is a translation. Note how it said for the dead, but it does not mention death. It is all about God.
May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which he has created according to his will. May his Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen.
May his great name be blessed, forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored elevated and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is he- above and beyond any blessings and hymns, Praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen. He who makes peace in his high holy places, may he bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.
Amen, indeed. Amen.