Life Cycles—Yizkor memorial candle settings by artist Shahna Lax

 Flame tree topaz Forest emerald Alhambra carnelian

Chaim, the Hebrew word for “Life,” is structured in the form of a double plural. Just like yadaim, “hands,” and oznaim, “ears.” (And yes, mayim, “water,” has the same form). The single word for LIFE carries an intrinsic implication of two lives. Does it perhaps imply an internal and external reality? Does it speak to this life and a life hereafter?

These are the thoughts that circulate as I’ve been working on Yizkor candle settings.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 20:27 speaks of the soul: Ner Havaya Nishmat Adam—“The candle of Havaya is the soul of a human being.” In our tribal tradition, consequently, a candle has come to symbolize a soul. The yahrzeit candle brings the memory of a fragile life to the fore and accompanies that memory with the recognition of the continued life, in whatever form, of that beloved soul.

So, I have begun creating these Yizkor candle settings—a simple concept that provides a place setting for that memory candle with a kind of meditative focus that reinforces life. Made from copper and cedar, they are a small addition to the world of hidur mitzvah –“Beautification of the Connective Tissue between ourselves and the Source of our being.”