Since it's the last day of Khanike, when, in some communities, the left over "dead thread" from Yom Kippur would be used to make khanike candles (see this study of the practice from 1906), I thought I'd share this short memory of Sore-Rokhl "di grobe" from Krinski (Krynica Wiés) Poland. Sore-Rokhl's titles also demonstrate how feldmestn (cemetery measuring) overlapped with the other cemetery rituals and ritualists documented on this website. "The days of awe" from "The Krinski way of life" by Bezalel Fatshebutsky
On Rosh Khoydesh Elel (the first day of the Jewish month of Elul) women used to go to the holy place (the cemetery) to measure it. Many women used to use Sore-Rokhl “the fat” as their communal spokesperson, to act on their behalf as klogerke, a mourning woman, and a beterke, a negotiator with the dead.
…. On Kol Nidrei all the shuls were packed with people. When Reb Zalmen Sender decided, because of the fires that kept breaking out, that the women’s sections should be closed on Kol Nidrei, it was seen by the women of Krinski as the harshest, most fateful sentence a ruler had ever decreed.
The original Yiddish is on page 218 of Pinkes Krinski (1970). A few pages later, under there is mention of another female ritual leader, a famous healer of dybbuks in nearby Krushenyan, although without any more detail. To learn more about Sore Rokhl and other female shtetl ritualists, sign up for my course with Beit Kohenet, starting January 7, and/or keep following this website.
Photo is of my very own soul candle khanike-lomp/ hannukiah. Especially in this time of terrible darkness, we need a bit of ancestral magic to bring in the light this khanike.