The Yahrzeit, meaning “time of the year” in Yiddish, is the anniversary of the death of a relative and is observed as a solemn occasion in all branches of Judaism. A special candle is lit, burning for the full 24 hours of the anniversary date. The purpose of our program is to serve as a Yahrzeit reminder for you and your family, and to eternally provide information and photographs about your loved ones.
When a loved one passes away, it is traditional to observe the seven days of Shivah. A yahrzeit marks both the end of the year of mourning, and the anniversary of death. Jews are required to commemorate the death of parents, siblings, spouses, or children. A 24-hour candle is lit the erev, or evening, before the yarzeit. This custom is deeply ingrained in Jewish communities, and is seen as a way to honor the memory and souls of the deceased.
Direct family members attend synagogue for the evening of the previous day (Maariv), morning (Shacharit), and afternoon services (Mincha) and recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, the memorial prayer. Most synagogues keep a list of the Hebrew dates of members’ death, and remind family members of the date on the Shabbat before the Yahrzeit is observed. Although people are encouraged to come to synagogue on the Hebrew date of the Yahrzeit, Kaddish is always recited after the Rabbi reads the list of upcoming Yahrzeits in case mourners cannot attend weekday services on the Yahrzeit.
Kaddish Yatom, the “Mourner’s” Kaddish, is said at all prayer services, as well as at funerals and memorials. Customs for reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish vary among Jewish communities. In many synagogues, particularly Orthodox ones, it is customary that everyone in the synagogue stand. In other synagogues, the custom is that only the mourners themselves stand and recite the prayer, while the rest of the congregation sits, chanting only responsively. Some say Kaddish for deceased friends or non-direct family members, such as grandparents; others simply stand out of respect while the Kaddish is recited.