Yahrzeits

Yahrzeits

  • Yahrzeit - Anniversary of a Death
  • Yizkor - Memorial Prayers
  • Yizkor Dates
  • Yahrzeit Calendar

The yahrzeit is the annual anniversary of the death of a person based on the Hebrew calendar. This day is observed as a solemn day of remembrance. Yahrzeit is a Yiddish word meaning “a years time.” The day is observed by lighting a memorial candle or light the evening before the day of the yahrzeit. This candle or light should burn for twenty-four hours. Often, people attend synagogue or a place where there is a minyan (10 Jewish men) on the yahrzeit day to say Kaddish for their loved one. If your temple or synagogue notifies you of a family member’s yahrzeit, they will often read your loved ones name on the Shabbat (Sabbath) service before the actual yahrzeit date. Families often attend this service for that reason. It is also common for a family member to have an Aliyah, or to “go up” to the bima (the platform where the Torah is read) in honor of deceased loved one.

When lighting the candle, there are no standard prayers to commemorate a yahrzeit. Many people recite some of the psalms that relate to the funeral service or other prayers or readings that seem appropriate. Some people also visit the cemetery around this time. Some give tzedakah (charitable donations) to commemorate the yahrzeit.

On the major Jewish holidays (Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Passover andShavuot) there is a memorial service called Yizkor.  In Hebrew, Yizkor means “may God remember.”  Traditionally, a Yahrzeit light is lit at sunset the night before each of these holidays, to remember a loved one.  

Originally, in the 12th century, the Yizkor service was said only on Yom Kippur to remember and honor those who were killed in the programs and the Crusades.  Over the years, Yizkor became a service to remember our own loved ones as well as the Jewish martyrs.  About 400 years ago the Yizkor service was added to the liturgy of Passover (Yizkor is observed on the last day of Passover), Shemini Atzeret (8th day of Sukkot) and the second day of Shavuot. The Mourner’s Kaddish is part of the Yizkor service.

People who have lost a parent, spouse, child or sibling usually stay for the Yizkorservice.  In most congregations, those who have not lost anyone for whom to say Yizkor, leave the sanctuary.  In some congregations, everyone stays for the Yizkor service.  Sometimes, additional prayers are said for Jewish martyrs and victims of the Holocaust.

The yahrzeit is observed annually on the Jewish date of death.  When the death occurs after sunset, it is the following day that is used to calculate the yahrzeit.  The yahrzeitbegins at sunset on the proceeding day and is concluded at sunset on the day of death.  During the observance of yahrzeit, a memorial yahrzeit candle is kept burning and theMourner’s Kaddish is recited during services in the synagogue.

Yizkor Dates

 22 Nissan7 Sivan10 Tishrei22 Tishrei
Year8th Day of Passover2nd Day of ShavuotYom KippurShemini-Atzeret
2007Apr. 10May. 24Sept. 22Oct. 4
2008Apr. 27June 10Oct. 9Oct. 21
2009Apr. 16May 30Sept. 28Oct. 10
2010Apr. 6May 20Sept. 18Sept. 30
2011Apr. 26June 9Oct.8Oct. 20
2012Apr. 14May 28Sept. 26Oct. 8
2013Apr. 2May 16Sept. 14Sept. 26
2014Apr. 13May 27Sept. 7Sept. 19
2015Apr. 3May 17Sept. 25Oct. 7
2016Mar. 22May 5Sept. 15Sept. 27
2017Apr. 18June 1Sept. 30Oct. 12
2018Apr. 7May 21Sept. 19Oct. 1
2019Apr. 27June 10Oct. 9Oct. 21
2020Apr. 16May 30Sept. 28Oct. 10
2021Apr. 4May 18Sept. 16Sept. 28