The memorial service of Yizkor is especially evocative on Yom Kippur, a day on which the boundaries between life and death are so deeply blurred. As we prepare for Yizkor, go deeper with these resources from Pauline Boss and Nessa Rapaport, and an excerpt from the film, When People Die They Sing Songs.

when people die they sing songs

When People Die They Sing Songs

Olga Lvoff’s film, When People Die They Sing Songs is a sensitive examination of family, memory, displacement and mortality. Join us as we meet BJ members Regina Gluckman (born in Tibova, Czechoslovakia, 1919) and Sonia Gluckman (conceived in Sidi El Ayashi, Morocco) shortly after Regina enters home hospice at the age of ninety-three. Through her music therapy sessions with British born Robin Mitchel, Regina recalls the Yiddish and French songs of her youth, recapturing the mood of this mother and daughter’s tumultuous history, much of it undiscussed for decades.

Nizahker Venikatev

Nizakher Venikatev: A Reflective Guide for Yizkor

It may be particularly challenging to recite Yizkor this year, since we can’t be together in person. And yet during Yizkor, we are still a community of the bereaved, even from a distance. How can you connect with others who are remembering loved ones on Yom Kippur and during the rest of the year? Explore these questions and more with our reflective guide for Yizkor.


El Malei Rahamim for Victims of Racial Violence

El Malei Rahamim is the memorial prayer recited at funerals and during Yizkor, the memorial service included in Yom Kippur and other festival services. This version honors the memory of all those who have been murdered throughout America’s history because of their race—those who died under slavery or the Native American genocide, those lynched or bombed, those shot by police or killed through mistreatment in prisons and jails in the present day, and many more. We offer it for use during Yizkor on Yom Kippur and in other rituals of commemoration.

Breaking down the Yamim Nora'im

Breaking Down Yizkor

Check out our breakdown of Yizkor to understand its core components, why it’s incorporated as part of the Yom Kippur service, and why some people leave the room right before it starts.

Nessa Rapoport

Nessa Rapoport: Soliloquy

Nessa Rapoport’s new novel, Evening, was published by Counterpoint Press on September 1, 2020. She is the author of Preparing for Sabbath, a novel; A Woman’s Book of Grieving, prose poems; and House on the River, a memoir; among other works.

on being logo

On Being Podcast: Navigating Loss without Closure with Pauline Boss

Pauline Boss coined the term ambiguous loss and invented a new field within psychology to recognize the reality that every loss does not hold a promise of resolution. Amid this pandemic, there are so many losses—from deaths that could not be fully mourned, to the very structure of our days, to a sudden crash of what felt like solid careers and plans and dreams. This conversation is full of practical intelligence for shedding assumptions about how we should be feeling and acting, as these only serve to deepen stress.