Yahrzeit word is derived from a German word Jahreit which means an occasion of honoring the departed soul. Yahrzeit is a commemorative act in the honour of Jewish death by a mourner. The mourner can be anyone, sibling, spouse or any other relative of the deceased. According to the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary death date is considered as a date of the Yahrzeit, not the burial date. Basically, it takes place in three locations: the synagogue, the home and the cemetery.
The 4 W’s of Yahrzeit ~Who, What When and Why
Yahrzeit is a Yiddish word, which literally means “time of year” or memorial. Jews of
Ashkenazi descent use this term. Sephardim call this commemoration nahala, in Ladino. This
custom is widely observed and based on the Jewish tradition that mourners are required to
commemorate the death of a relative.
Children, siblings, spouses and parents of the deceased are required to fulfill this observance.
The Yahrzeit falls annually on the Hebrew date of the deceased's death according to the
The main obligation is to recite the mourner's version of the Kaddish prayer three times: the
evening of the date, since the date begins after sundown - then the following morning and
afternoon. During the Morning Prayer service the mourner's Kaddish is recited at least four
times. It is a custom for mourners to light a special memorial candle that burns for 24 hours.
The Yahrzeit candle is contained in either a glass tumbler or a metal cup and is easily found in
most chain supermarkets and at stores where kosher products are sold. Lighting a yahrzeit
candle in memory of a loved one is a minhag - a custom that is deeply ingrained in Jewish life
honoring the memory and souls of the deceased.
All the Yahrzeit rituals are deeply ingrained in the Jewish life. The common rituals that are performed
in the honorable memory of the departed soul include chanting Kaddish prayer and lightening a Yahrzeit candle and the observing fasting.
Yahrzeit candle is a special memorable candle that should be lit in the evening before the death anniversary and burns for the continuous 24 hours.
While lightening a memorial candle, there are no specific prayers to recite. Lightening of a candle carries spiritual significance as
there is similarity between a soul and a candle's flame. Just like a flame, which is unstill and never extinguished, similarly,
soul in order to achieve ultimate peace also strives continuously to reach up to Almighty.
The Connection between Kaddish and Tzedakah - Charity
Yahrzeit includes the action of donating charity in memory of a deceased loved one. Through
the performance of the mitzvah of tzedakah in the name of the departed, the merit of the deed
is shared with the soul of the late relative, as their memory is enhanced.
Donating charity in the loving memories of the departed soul is another custom followed in Yahrzeit.
If you are looking for any such non-profit organization that supports a traditional Jewish donating charity
custom in the reminiscences of loved ones, then just log on to making such donations,
you are making a genuine effort of bringing peace among the departed soul.
To remember and honor your loved one(s), please DONATE NOW to the
Lev LaLev Memorial Tzedakah – Charity Project.
Your generous contribution will forever change the life of an orphaned girl at the
Rubin-Zeffen Home in Netanya, Israel.
It’s a Mitzvah!