Yizkor: Remembering Our Loved Ones

Each year on Yom Kippur we create a Yizkor Scroll on which are inscribed the names of Dorshei Tzedek members who have died, as well as the names of those we individually mourn, identified by the member remembering them. We support our members in observing yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death of family members, by sending annual reminders.

Jewish Traditions of Remembrance

Yizkor and Yahrzeit are days of remembrance. Four times a year, on Yom Kippur, Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret, Passover, and Shavuot, there is a Yizkor service within that holiday’s service. According to Jewish tradition, mourners may say the Yizkor prayer by themselves; unlike Kaddish, there is no requirement for a minyan (quorum for prayer). Nevertheless, this prayer gains power as mourners stand shoulder-to-shoulder, praying silently together.

Yahrzeit is the anniversary of a death in the Jewish calendar. On both the yahrzeit and for Yizkor, a special candle is lit (because Jewish days begin at sundown the previous evening, the candle should be lit right before sunset either on the evening before the anniversary of the death, or before the holiday begins). While there is no specific liturgy associated with the lighting of the candle, you might want to take out a picture of the person you are remembering, or share a memory of them. You are also invited to come to Dorshei Tzedek to recite the Mourners Kaddish prayer at Shabbat morning services on the Saturday immediately preceding or following the yahrzeit. No knowledge of Hebrew is required, and members of the congregation are happy to assist you in saying Kaddish.

There is also a custom of visiting graves of loved ones during Elul, the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the new year.

Finally, it is traditional at this time of year to give tzedakah, charitable contributions, in memory of the deceased. According to the rabbis, the mitzvah of giving is “as important as all the other commandments put together.” If you would like to make a donation to Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in memory of a loved one at this time, please include it with the form on the other side of this page.

Please register for the Yizkor Scroll for 5777 by September 1, 2016.