Yizkor website official launch


Photo: Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (centre), with Chaim Adler, Chief Cantor of Tel Aviv, and Sir Maurice Hatter, Vice President of World ORT. The Yizkor site was conceived by Judah Harstein (left), Head of Jewish Education and implemented by World ORT IT Department, under Michael Shain, Director of IT (right). The official launch of World ORTs Yizkor website took place on Wednesday 4 September at ORT House in London. The site was launched in the presence of the U.K.s Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks, Cantor Chaim Adler, who lent his spectacular voice to the website and Sir Maurice Hatter who generously sponsored the project. During the launch guests were treated to the breathtaking voice of Chazan Chaim Adler who performed a brief pre-Rosh Hashanah cantorial medley, and also chanted the memorial prayer for the 37 ORT Israel students and recent graduates that have died in acts of terror. Visitors to the site can hear the beautifully rendered Kaddish, Yizkor and the memorial prayers by the world-renowned cantor of Tel Aviv, who recorded the pieces especially for this project. Lady Amelie Jakobovits, wife of the Late Chief Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jackobovits, graciously closed the ceremony. September 4, the date of the launch, was 59 years to the day when she and her family were rescued from Nazis in France. She told the very poignant story of how she was rescued and how ORT helped her family get back on their feet after the traumas of their escape. When we say Yizkor we pray that God will remember us for life, Lady Jakobovits said. When we got out of the camp it was ORTs kindness and graciousness that reminded us that we had not been forgotten. The Jewish people are the worlds first virtual community, the Chief Rabbi told guests at ORT House. Since the destruction of the Second Temple the Jews did not have a common nation, but they were always connected, if not in space but in time. Every Shabbat and every festival they said the same words so all of them, no matter where they were in the world were connected by their tradition. This website allows all Jews today wherever they are in the world to remain connected. Throughout the world, ORTs work takes it to many forgotten Jewish communities. Here, in addition to providing training programmes, it also brings the technology that enables these dispersed communities to reconnect with the main channels of Jewish life. It is in the spirit of harnessing technology to issues of Jewish continuity that ORT has developed its renowned online Navigating the Bible project and, now, the Yizkor memorial website. In endorsing the project, the Chief Rabbi said, If ORTs latest project encourages just one more person to fulfil the mitzvah of honouring the memory of their parents it will have been worthwhile; if tens, hundreds or even thousands of people are able to make use of it, the benefits will be immeasurable. World ORT Head of Jewish Education, Judah Harstein, who originally came up with the idea of the project, said In true ORT style, we have found a new way of using advanced technology to help Jewish people to reconnect with their heritage. The Yizkor website has been created to help preserve the centuries-old traditions with which Jewish communities remember the departed souls of family and friends. Visitors to the site can learn all about time-honoured Jewish memorial customs including: Kaddish – the prayer said by mourners in the Synagogue; Yahrzeit the commemoration each year of the Hebrew anniversary of a relatives death; and the Yizkor service said in Synagogues four times a year, on Yom Kippur and on the last day of each of the major Festivals. Through Yizkor, Jews wherever they are can go online to learn about Jewish customs of remembrance, to hear the traditional prayers and to be reminded of their parents and relatives Yahrzeit the annual dates upon which the traditional memorial practices are observed. A special feature of the site is the ability to create an on-line memorial to deceased relatives and friends, which can include a photograph, details of their life and a personal tribute. Users who register at the site can also have an email reminder sent to them each year as the Yahrzeit date draws near. Visit the site at www.yizkor.ORT.org and see for yourself.