This is my first post reflecting my thoughts and experiences while traveling throughout the U.S. and World…..visiting many different synagogues and yeshivas in order to say kaddish for my mother, Jacquelyn Labow ( z’l) who passed away this summer.

The idea of this blog was actually inspired by my daughter, Ilana, who when hearing my tales of recent travels and shul visits, said to me I should document this special year.  She felt that someone in the family may want to reflect back on my notes years from now and it would be nice to have some of these important and very meaningful memories to look back on.    At the same time I began to realize that countless other tradional Jews throughout the U.S. follow this same requrement in our faith to say kaddish for a family member who has passed and may also enjoy reading of my travels and experiences during this challenging yet interesting year of saying kaddish.

Its been a very difficult 4 months since mom passed, as we were very very close, basically best friends.  However the time I have spent saying kaddish three times a day for shacharit, mincha and maariv have gone a long way to help the pain subside a bit.

Although I wanted this blog to be a diary going forward of the many shuls, kollels and yeshivas in the numerous cities and towns I will be visiting during my travels,  I’m now into my 4th month since mom passed away.  I have already had many interesting experiences along the way which I will try to remember and document here.

The years’ journey began in a whirlwind manner.  The day shiva ended for me in my home in Highland Park,  my wife, Maia and I literally ran to the airport to catch a flight for Israel, as my middle daughter, Jordana, was due to deliver our first grandchild that week.   Erez Yaakov was born on July 13 in B’nai Zion Hospital, Haifa. The incredible yet awkward feeling of losing someone you love so dearly and the birth of a grandchild shortly thereafter is hard to explain.  Being in the maternity ward with Jordana that morning, I felt an outpouring of exhaustion, sadness, exhuberance and excitement all rolled into one.  Happily, both of Jordana’s siblings, Yoni and Ilana, as well as her Uncle Larry, were able to join us in Israel that week.

In Israel for 5 weeks during this time, we rented a beautiful home in Zichron Yaakov.  That special month would include my davening three times a day in a shul in Zichron Yaakov, Ohel Yaakov Synagogue.

Ohel Yaakov was established in 1866 by Baron Rothschild.  It is an incredibly beautiful German shul.  The members are a mix of old sabras who have been living in Zichron forever, new Anglo olim ( immigrants ) from England, U.S., etc… and some visitors such as myself.  In the short 5 weeks I was davening there I was made to feel as I was part of their warm extended family.

When the day came that we had to leave Zichron to head back to the States, I felt compelled to purchase memorial plaques for both my mother and father, as well as Maia’s mother and father, to be afixed on the entry wall when entering the shul.  I was just informed the plaques have finally been put up and I cant wait to return to Zichron to see them, as well as my many friends I made at this wonderful shul.

While in Israel I davened at several other shuls.  In Carmiel up in the Galil ( close to Jordana and Roee’s apartment ) there was an old, small shul at the end of a cul-de-sac.  The ashkenaz shul I davened at with Yoni and Larry was next door to a sephardic shul.  Walking out I turned around to notice the shul’s name….. same as my shul I daven at each morning in Deerfield, Moriah !