Full PlateFunctional Memory

Memorial Day Thoughts
By Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky, Executive Director

Excerpted from "Sacred Intentions: Daily Inspiration
to Strengthen the Spirit, Based on Jewish Wisdom
" by
Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky and Rabbi Lori Forman
c.1999, published by Jewish Lights Publishing

When mentioning a righteous person, add a blessing for that person.
-- MIDRASH

The first day of spring never varies. It always occurs on the vernal equinox in April. The same used to be true of days like Memorial Day. Now the date varies each year, since it is fixed at the last Monday in May. But for most people, Memorial Day--the last few waning days of spring in May--serves as a doorway to summer. This is particularly the case in northern climes, where swimming pools open on Memorial Day weekend and people begin to focus on the outdoors. Lawn chairs come out. Barbecue grills are lit. One thing remains contant, though: memory. Lots of people have memories of this time of year--time with family, with friends. The school year is nearing completion. Many businesses switch to shorter summer hours. The world seems to slow down just a little for a short time.

Some scholars argue that, for the spiritually oriented person, memory is far more important than history. Rather than being the accumulated record of events over time, memory merges our presonal experience with the collective experience of a nation and people. Memory paves a path for current experience. Memory is not a passive accumulation of past events. Rather, memory is an active experience, because we have to create it for others.

So get ready for summer, and have a memorable time.