Since childhood my father had always introduced me as his "Kaddish." It wasn't until my teens that I realized the implication of that honor. Upon his death 53 years ago, I went to a local synagogue morning and night for 11 months. It was a tiny shul near the intersection of La Cienega and Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles.
I had not the faintest notion of what to expect. My family, though spiritual, was not wrapped in the ritual and trappings of the faith. Though I had attended many bar mitzvahs of friends and cousins, I didn't have one myself. Consequently, I had no knowledge of Hebrew and couldn't read the prayer books.