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Is The "Death Cult" Dead?

When I was growing up, after Hebrew school, I would often stay for minyan. Originally the reason was that my father had to say kaddish, and even though I was too young to count in the minyan, it was more convenient for me to stay than to have my father drive me home and come back. After my father’s 11 months were over, we would continue to attend for others who had to say kaddish. The minyan was always hovering around 10, for should 11 or 12 show up one day, it was pretty much a guarantee that there would be no minyan the following day, each person thinking someone else will go in their place. (Not exactly the best way to build up a strong and healthy minyan) While there were a lot of positives that would come out of that experience there were also negatives, among them eating supper after 8pm. One thing I noticed during this time was that when one’s time for saying kaddish was over, that was also the last time we would see him. I never understood that and it bothered me. They saw how hard it was to get a minyan together, thus allowing them to say kaddish and despite all of their claiming that they would attend post-kaddish, it would just turn out to be bluster. But come jahrzeits or yizkor, they showed up. Otherwise, they were just too busy. This crowd, I would later find out, was dubbed the “death cult.” While a derogatory term to say the least, it seemingly fit the bill. The sad thing is that as time went on, the next generation would not carry on their parents devotion to the institution of kaddish. The question is why it ended.
I would like to suggest that the reason some people don’t feel obligated to recite kaddish or yizkor is their lack of connection to Judaism. Their parents, even though disconnected in some form, found solace in the tradition. They also felt that these acts were demonstrations of honor to those deceased and a way to help them in the “next phase of life.” They would sit shiva for 7 days and not try to shorten it. They would make sure that their loved one had a Jewish burial. In the shiva house they would cover the mirrors, light the candle, and the community would daven there. After shiva, they would continue to attend minyan and say kaddish, all to honor the deceased. The concept of paying someone to say kaddish was usually done only if the offspring were daughters. It seems to me that today, unless you’re orthodox, or a throwback to the old days, the concept of honoring loved ones by reciting kaddish is done. People no longer run in just for yizkor or come for jahrzeits. They no longer find solace in the tradition. They no longer know the tradition.
While I’m happy that the people who attend minyan are doing so because they sense and/or know of the importance of daily connection to Hashem and have a sense of community and recognize communal need, I must admit my sadness in feeling that the “death cult” is dead.
Am I wrong in my assessment? I look forward to hearing from you.

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