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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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Mourner's Kaddish and Yahrzeit


See also "Kaddish—Different Versions and Usages"

  1. When my father, Z"L, died in 1967, I said Kaddish for a year by praying within a mostly-Orthodox-style chapel within a Conservative synagogue in Queens, NYC. Prior to the start of L'chah Dodi, the new mourners were asked to leave. When the last verse came and we faced the back doors and opened the doors, we also "invited" the new mourners to re-enter. It was a special way of recognizing and comforting the mourners.


  2. At our congregation, we read the names of those who have died and for whom we are observing either shivah (first week) or sh'loshim (thirty days). We also recite their relationship to our congregant (e.g., Susie Schwartz, mother of David Schwartz). Once sh'loshim is over, the names are no longer read except on the yahrzeit. Usually only the names of close family members are read (e.g., parents, children, siblings, grandparents), and I suspect that exceptions are made only when a congregant specifically asks that a name be read during sh'loshim. Our kaddish and yahrzeit lists are read by the rabbi and names of others are not elicited from the congregation during the service. This all seems to work well and we never have an excessive list of names on the yahrzeit/Kaddish list, which usually has 20-25 names in total (despite the fact that we are an 850-member congregation).

    850 Members

  3. It is appropriate to acquire permission in order to remove names from the Yahrzeit list, e.g., a relative of a member from a previous marriage. Judaism is a community religion. Beyond our concern for "kavod hamet" (honoring the deceased), we are also the advocates for the deceased. Too often, today, I find that the importance of the Kaddish has waned over the years for those who were once aveil (direct mourners) and the deceased deserve a minyan and Kaddish, even if it is from total strangers, a real special mitzvah.

    At our congregation, we publish in the service leaflet the names of the recent deaths that have touched our congregation (generally for one week), the yahrzeit list for that Shabbat, and the Rabbi asks the congregation to add aloud any names they wish. We do not have a sh'loshim list tradition.

    On Yom Kippur, it has been our tradition during the Yizkor service to read all the names that had been on our "recent deaths" lists every Shabbat from one Yom Kippur to the next. We made a slight change in that this year. Previously, the Rabbi read the entire list. This year, I, as Chair of our Cemetery Committee, and the other person who helps me on the Cemetery Committee, read the list, alternating pages. I think it was a good move, and that we are likely to continue it.


  4. Painful as the reading of a long list of the departed may be, I have come to feel that a congregation has a sacred obligation to read those names. In many cases the departed made major contributions to Judaism and, perhaps, hoped that they would continue to be remembered through these recitations. In this sense, the current status of their living relatives is irrelevant. In fact, in cases where there are no relatives left to remember the departed, at least their former congregations can acknowledge them. Are the other elements of our services so important that we cannot afford these brief moments to remember the departed? If so, what does that say of our priorities?

  5. At our temple we observe mourners? Kaddish a little differently. As names are read of the recently deceased (still in the 30 day period of mourning) or those for whom yahrzeit is observed, the families rise. Then, the entire congregation stands in support of those who are already standing. The Rabbi explains this before the list is read, so those even visitors understand the basis for our practice.

    I was a member of a congregation where this custom developed because somebody forgot to bring the memorial list (we had no building and worshiped in local schools). At first, I liked it, being able to remember people even if they weren't on some "official" list. My mother complained that she liked to hear names read for yahrzeit observance - I disagreed at the time, but changed by mind after my father's death. Perhaps our current practice of standing as names are read is also an attempt to "recapture what was lost when everybody began rising for Kaddish", but I think it does a better job of accomplishing that goal than does the congregational calling of names - although I still find the latter moving as an addition to the traditional reading.

    840 members

  6. At our congregation, families on behalf of a name on the yahrzeit list rise as the name is called, then the congregation is asked for names not on the list. I like this since it seems consistent with the mitzvah of welcoming the stranger. Among those who do not regularly attend services, coming to worship on the date of a yahrzeit is still important and the congregation learns of another loved one who has passed.

    In the Reform tradition, we ask all to stand. I can see doing this on behalf of the six million who perished but not because it keeps the mourners from being embarrassed. I do see the value of doing this for another important reason: with assimilation, busy schedules, the passage of time, and some unfortunate lack of interest there are always those for whom nobody is saying Kaddish. One of the great unspoken cries of the Jew is "who will say Kaddish for me?" Although the entire congregation is not a set of direct mourners for the strangers, at least we become that someone who is saying Kaddish for the person for whom no one is saying Kaddish. To me, that is consistent with "all Jews are responsible for one another" and makes me fond of the custom.

    370 families

  7. For many years, our congregation's custom was for all to rise for the Mourners? Kaddish. The reasons given were that it was lonely and difficult for a mourner to stand alone, and that the entire congregation should say Kaddish in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

    We held several discussions about the issue and found a range of interesting opinions. One person said that when he stood to say Kaddish for his father, he felt that his doing so paid tribute to his father, and this was somehow diluted with everyone, including non-mourners, standing and reciting Kaddish. Another said that when she was saying Kaddish for her father, she found strength and support by the presence of others standing with her. Exact opposites!

    I believe that both of them are right. So how do we solve this? Regarding the victims of the Holocaust, we have special memorial services on Yom HaShoah and in our congregation on Kristallnacht (the 9th of November), and mention them at Yizkor on Yom Kippur and the three festivals, so we remember them without being obsessed with their memory more than other Jewish victims and martyrs. I also observed some discomfort with all standing for the mourners Kaddish, particularly by those from more traditional backgrounds, including but not limited to bar/bat mitzvah guests. Clearly some Jews wanted permission to remain seated, while others felt strongly about standing even when they were not personally mourning. After discussion with the ritual committee, I began to introduce the Kaddish (after reading the names of those who died in the last 30 days and all the yahrzeits of the week) by saying: "Those who mourn and others who wish may rise for the Mourners? Kaddish." It functions well for us, by giving permission to each person to decide whether to stand or sit

    about 300 members

  8. We have everyone stand for the Mourners? Kaddish. We tried changing it three years ago. It was a classical case of changing things without enough thought or publicity, and it really hurt some people. We talked about the change in our newsletter, and the rabbi talked about it from the pulpit for several weeks. But after all, some people don't read the newsletter, and some people don't come to services every week. There were some people who came for Kaddish and were totally surprised.

    What we learned is that some people feel very naked when they stand up for the Kaddish. Maybe it's different in an Orthodox synagogue, where you pray every day, and where you have a group of people who are in different stages of grief. But it's different when you only come for Kaddish, or when there are only one or two new mourners in the congregation, and suddenly you're standing up.

    My daughter's ballet teacher committed suicide the week before we made the change. Jenny was seven at the time, and it was the first time she experienced death. She'd been coming to services every week for years, and she was determined to say Kaddish for her teacher. But of course, that was the week we were making the change. So she had to decide whether to be one of the few people who stood. Of course, it's an unusual case, but we had adults in the congregation who were going through the same pain as Jenny.

    When we try to make changes and we run into resistance, it?s easy to think of the naysayers as stubborn or too attached to minhag. But change can cause real pain for our fellow congregants. We need to be sensitive to it.


  9. Having grown up in a conservative synagogue and watched the isolation of the few people who stand up, and the fidgety discomfort of the multitude who remain seated, I believe that one of the most wonderful innovations of Reform worship is having the entire congregation stand to recite the Kaddish. Far from having my occasions of observing yahrzeit robbed of their special spiritual power, I derived great comfort from having my fellow congregants stand and recite with me. Also, I know that I have helped provide comfort to others on many occasions by standing for them. I feel the entire congregation saying Kaddish is the best blend of innovation and tradition.


  10. It is very important to know who among us is observing a yahrzeit or is in mourning. We recently instituted the practice of inviting those who wish to rise for Kaddish to do so when their loved one's name is called. It's quite a powerful thing to experience.

    The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand in support of those who mourn and, if they wish, to chant the Kaddish. Like many of you, I grew up as a Conservative Jew, and when I joined a Reform congregation, I was quite surprised that an entire congregation would rise and chant Kaddish along with the mourners. But when I heard Rabbi Jonathan Stein say at Santa Cruz's UAHC Kallah, "Let's all rise to support those who mourn and to say Kaddish for those who have no one to say Kaddish for them," I knew I needed to say Kaddish for the rest of my life.

    For me, there will never be enough Kaddish said for the six million, and my experience of saying Kaddish for my mother, my beloved step-mother, my grandmother, and other loved ones is in no way diminished by my sharing that sacred moment during each service.

    874 members

  11. It is the custom in our congregation -- which seems consistent with the practice of most Reform congregations -- for the entire congregation to stand for the Mourners' Kaddish. In very recent years, a new element has been added to the ritual -- the invitation to the congregation to mention the names of others of whom they are thinking of. In our congregation, this is usually the practice when we worship in the chapel, and not usually the case when we are in the sanctuary.

    In my parents' generation, saying kaddish and observing yahrtzeit were mitzvot that possessed incredible power even over people who observed almost nothing else. I find my two occasions of observing yahrtzeit robbed of their special spiritual power because when I am reciting the Mourners' Kaddish every week, how are those two weeks of special remembrance special? And saying Kaddish forever also erodes the psychological wisdom of the progression towards closure of shiva, shloshim, and ten more months of memorial observance before public mourning comes to a stop.

    In one of our neighboring Reform congregations, only the mourners rise. They respond to the remembrance of the Six Million by designating a congregant each Shabbat who will stand and recite Kaddish for them. That minhag makes sense to me, both on the level of reclaiming Kaddish for the mourners, and for truly reminding us weekly of the Shoah. As a Litvak by persuasion if not descent (i.e., a skeptic), I find myself more amused than anything else by today's clamor for spirituality, which seems to focus attention on the self more than on the community and on the Divine. But this does not mean that I don't think congregations should respond to the search for the spiritual. Restoring the Mourners' Kaddish to the mourners would be one step towards helping people establish connectedness.

    1332 members

  12. What is your congregation's minhag for reading names for yahrzeit? For the week just passed, or for the week upcoming? For twelve months or for eleven months? For immediate relatives (sibling/parent/spouse/child) or also for extended family (in-laws, grandparents, step-family)? If the latter, what about aunts/uncles/cousins? Friends? What about famous people--for example, Ilan Ramon or Yitzhak Rabin or Matthew Shepperd? Do you charge--i.e., is there a mandatory donation, or is it just customary for people to donate though not required to do so? Elizabeth
  13. At [our congregation] we have the following customs:

    Before Kaddish we read:

    1. Shivah names
    2. Sh'loshim names
    3. Yahrzeit names
    We print the names (in our weekly leaflet) of persons whose yahrzeit is from the last Shabbat until the next Thursday.

    Because our congregation is old (146 years), we only read names that are called in or given to us at services. We are open to reading any name, regardless of the relation to the caller. This includes non-Jewish relatives.

    As far as famous people, that has been at the discretion of the senior rabbi. Some have done it; others do not.

    The congregation sends out cards to the next-of-kin reminding them of the upcoming yahrzeit (we follow secular dating, by the way), and there is a note at the bottom of the card which reads, "This notice was made possible by the Yahrzeit Remembrance Fund," which is an indirect request for a donation.

    1250 Families

  14. Our congregation lists the names of the yahrzeit anniversaries only in the service sheet and they are read aloud the week after the date. About two weeks before the yahrzeit date a reminder card with the date of the service(s) at which the name will be read, [along with] a contribution envelope, is mailed to the family. There is no major pressure to contribute. We also list recent deaths, after the funeral, for that week only. We have had an ongoing discussion in the Ritual Committee about listing names during sh'loshim (the first thirty days). So far we have not reached a decision on this. I would be interested to know how many congregations list the names for sh'loshim in their service sheets?? For Yizkor on Yom Kippur we have a memorial booklet that lists all of the names of members and family members who have died. These names are listed at the request of surviving family and a contribution of $25 per name is requested.
    1100+ families

  15. Our Worship Committee is currently discussing the naming of recent deaths (not yahrzeit and sh'loshim observances) of family members of the b'nei mitzvah at our Saturday morning service. In these discussions our rabbi pointed out that the custom of a Mourner's Kaddish did not emerge until the 16th century. Prior to that, the Kaddish prayer had traditionally occurred solely as an important separator in the service, with no connection to mourning. Hence, the mourning nature of Kaddish and the yahrzeit announcements could be seen more as minhag than as a halachic issue and perhaps more open to adaptation appropriate for our community.
    800+ family units

  16. At our congregation, we list those in sh'loshim and yahrzeits from the previous day after Shabbat to this Shabbat. Most of the time, it's according to the secular calendar but can, on request, be the Hebrew calendar. People are sent notices of yahzeits ahead of time. Extended family members of temple members, Jewish or not, can be listed. Famous people are at the discretion of the rabbi.
    350+ members

  17. I attended the bat mitzvah of one of my former students, and one of her classmates sat next to me during the service. When time came for the Kaddish, I stood up, as I always do, and said it aloud (as is the custom in our congregation for a mourner or someone observing a Yahrzeit). As I sat down, my young companion asked me, "Did someone you know die?" My response to her was, "No. I stand for those that have no one to say Kaddish for them."

    And then a thought occurred to me--I'm single, with no children, and I have no one to say Kaddish for me when I'm gone. Whoa! Such a feeling came over me! I didn't realize until then how important it is to be remembered. And there are many people like me who have chosen Judaism, and may not have Jewish relatives to "carry on" after they've passed.

    Are there others out there that are thinking ahead to their posterity? What do you say to converts that ask this question (if it comes up during their process)? Does your congregation do anything special for those that have no one in their family to remember them?

    ~A posting shared from an Outreach listserv~

  18. Our temple states in the bulletin, where it says "Remembered By," the word "Congregation." In addition, our entire congregation stands for recitation of Kaddish. Some people stand as the name is read, and remain standing as the entire congregation is instructed by the clergy to rise for the recitation. There are b'nei mitzvah visitors who may be Conservative or unwilling to change to our custom, and they are free to remain seated.

    People in a position of having no one to say Kaddish for them might consider reserving a yartzheit spot and leaving instructions with the temple as to how to inscribe the plaque.


  19. I don't know whether our practice would satisfy the heartfelt need expressed, but on the High Holy Days we publish our Book of Remembrance and in it is a list of those who were members of our synagogue since its inception twenty-five years ago and who have passed away. In addition, any current member can list those family and/or friends who he/she wishes to have included. However, the list of former members is read out loud during a quiet meditative period during the Yom Kippur Yizkor service. We are a small congregation, and our current size of 170 units far exceeds the size for most of our existence. So this is still a practical possibility.

  20. I know the seven designated relations have an obligation to say Kaddish. I also know that many of us all rise to say Kaddish for people who have no one to say Kaddish on their behalf.

    Should congregational yahrzeit lists include only the 'designated' relatives for whom there is an obligation to mourn? Or should it include everyone a members wishes to include?


  21. I confess I don't understand why [some people can] feel quite comfortable ignoring many of the the mitzvot laid down in sources such as the Shulchan Aruch (kashrut, details of Shabbat observance, etc), but then pick one observance or custom from the tradition and elevate it to a must-do.

    So I am curious: Why would a Reform Jew really worry about having no one to say Kaddish for her or him? Do people really believe that their entry to olam haba depends on someone saying a prayer for eleven months after they pass away? (I have heard some Reform Jews even contemplate the practice of paying someone to say Kaddish for them.)

    I have nothing against the tradition, in fact, I think it is rather nice, and I also, in general, applaud the move of many Reform Jews to take a new look at rituals and customs from our more halachically-oriented siblings. At the same time, however, I think we should not follow blindly.


  22. I do like the practice of having the mourners stand first so they can be acknowledged by the congregation, and then inviting the rest of the members of the congregation to rise if they wish. In this way, we can both "comfort the mourners" and then remember those for whom there is no one to mourn. I also like to have the relationship of the deceased mentioned along with the name..."mother of so-and-so."

  23. I certainly agree...about the importance of communal memory, but I have always felt odd about the degree of "memory" involved when those being remembered are so broad that they are completely generic, and not indviduals at all.

    A potential compromise position, preserving the Reform innovation of everyone rising, and returning to the wisdom of acknowledging individuals--this is what I say prior to Kaddish: "As is the custom of our congregation, should you choose to do so, should you feel comfortable doing so, we ask that, as the name of loved one is read, you rise, so that the congregation may know that you are here in mourning and in memory. Then we will, as is Reform tradition, rise as a congregation as a whole for Kaddish Yatom, for the Kaddish prayer itself."

    A bit awkward and overstated, and a few people have occasionally commented on feeling institutional coercion to rise, but in general this has been received very, very well, and is appreciated both by mourners and those who, for example, did not know to make the connection when a last name on the list was different from that of the congregant they knew. It has certainly led to people going up to those present for a yahrtzeit during the oneg, and offering their best wishes and condolences. And I think that this element of added incentive for people to make personal connections with one another is really, really, really (did I say that enough?) missing from those congregations which simply have everyone rise.

    That's my middle ground position, and it works for us.

    (Rabbi) Michael

  24. Why would a Reform Jew really worry about having no one to say Kaddish for her or him? Well, our immortality lies in the memories people have of us. It is nice to know that twenty or thirty years after one dies, a congregation takes time from a Shabbat service to hear one's name mentioned and, knowing that the person had at one time been a member, stands and says Kaddish for that person. Even if the only memory of that person is that he or she was once a member of the temple, it is a memory.

    To survivors of the Holocaust, it is comforting to know that a Reform congregation somewhere stands in memory of the unnamed victims. It is not the individual name which we do not know which is important, but the memory of millions of Jews who once were and who were part of our people. Sometimes the reasons people do things have little to do with religion per se, as our more observant bretheren practice, but with psychological comfort or spiritual uplifting.


  25. The issue of saying Kaddish Yatom as a mourner or as a member of the congregation seems to me to be related to more than observing a mitzvah. It has come to mean a kind of immortality for those being mourned. Also it seems to me that this is an issue for more than Jews by Choice. My late husband's children do not, so far as I know, say Kaddish for him or any other of their deceased relatives. Even though not required to do so by Jewish law (and even though I never even met his parents) I observe the yahrzeits of his parents and sister as well as my own parents and brother (who were not Jewish). I am not saying that my late husband's children do not remember him, but as none of them belong to a synagogue I do not believe they do it in a communal setting.

    For those for whom this is an issue, I believe we have a responsibility as congregations to assure them that their yahrzeit will always be remembered even if they have no descendants to say Kaddish--even after many years when the list has grown long and no one remembers who they were anymore.

    1200 + families

  26. Our Rituals Committee determined just this past month that in our congregation, we will continue the practice we have followed during the nearly twelve years we've been in existence--that of including on the list every name a member wishes to remember, regardless of that person's relationship to the member.

  27. Mar 2005 Digests 041 and 042

                At our temple, the only time a minyan has been at risk of not occurring is at our 7:15 am Wednesday services (The Midweek Minyan). The rabbi conducts that service…However, since this is a more traditional service for us in style, we eliminate the Mourner’s Kaddish if there are no mourners present, and we say the Mourner’s Kaddish even with less than a minyan. [When m]y mom died…,and we did not achieve a minyan at one of the Wednesday morning services…rabbi had us proceed into the Mourner’s Kaddish. When I asked, "Even without a minyan?" he replied, very insightfully [that] if this is as close to the opportunity to say Kaddish as I was going to get, and may not have other opportunities for a few days, that is, until our Shabbat services, then he would rather have me recite Kaddish in the presences of less-than-a-minyan than not at all.  It was touching, comforting, and I felt, appropriate.

                When our Wednesday morning, "midweek minyan" falls short of a minyan, our rabbi…omits the Reader's Kaddish and the Bar’chu.

  28. Mar 2006 Digest 039

                …that beautiful paragraph, “Al Yisrael ve-'al Tsaddiqaya (‘The departed whom we now remember..’),” [the extra paragraph in Mourner's Kaddish] was actually composed by the editors of the first Reform prayer book, the famed Hamburg Temple Gebetbuch ('Prayerbook') of 1819, specifically to highlight the theme of an Afterlife (which in the traditional Mourner's Kaddish goes unmentioned). The novel text is based on older models.

  29. Mar 2006 Digest 039

                Dr. J. J. Petuchowski's book, Prayer Book Reform in Europe has a nice discussion on this [the extra paragraph in Mourner’s Kaddish] on page 323ff…notes that  Reform, out of character, actually added to Kaddish making it a "prayer for the dead."

  30. Mar 2006 Digest 039

                …[re the extra paragraph in Mourner’s Kaddish, in his book, Prayer Book Reform in Europe,] my teacher Jakob Petuchowski, z"l …lays out the sources of all the phrases in the Hamburg Tempelverein Kaddish (the ones that passed into the UPB are from the Sephardic Hashkavah prayer [their equivalent of El Maleh Rahamim], and the Kaddish deRabbanan, recited traditionally after rabbinic study). The UPB text was adapted from the Hamburg text; it is shorter (the Hamburg text also contained an insert into the first paragraph of the Kaddish that derives from the traditional "Burial" Kaddish, recited at the cemetery and also upon completion of the study of a tractate of the Talmud).

                The UPB text also underwent some changes. In the first two editions (1894/95 and 1922/24), the middle paragraph is identical with that of the Hamburg prayer book. In the third edition (1940/45)--that's the one that anyone reading this listserv who grew up with the UPB knows--the text has been changed. Omitted is the petition that the deceased receive "a good portion in the life of the world to come" (hulqa tava l'hayyei alma d'atei) and "mercy" (rahamei).
               By 1940, this may have seemed a bit too concrete. Instead the petition is only for "grace and loyal recompense" (hina v'hisda--instead of the earlier "hisda v'rahamei"). The corresponding English paragraph in 1940 ("The departed whom we now remember . . .") has nothing to do with the Aramaic; it is not even a paraphrase--but the earlier English version in the first two editions is something of a paraphrase of the Aramaic…

  31. Jul 2006 Digest 116

                I am sure our practice is not unique, but we send a letter to the member acknowledging the yarhzeit and informing them that the name of the person they are remembering will be read during Shabbat services on such and such a  date. We hope (but do not directly say) that the knowledge that the name will be read will encourage the member to attend.

                My prior congregation…usually had at least two congregants sitting on the bimah during Erev Shabbat services. The practice there included inviting congregants who were observing a yahrzeit to sit on the bimah the Shabbat the yahrzeit was observed.


    425 members
  32. Jul 2006 Digest 121

                [In]…our system the congregation is seated after saying Mi Shebeirach. The rabbi then reads the Kaddish list, with families of named deceased standing when their loved one's name is read; then the custom in our congregation is for all to stand and we all say Kaddish together.

  33. Jul 2006 Digest 121

                Our ritual committee had a very interesting study session just this morning on the Reform responsum addressing what factors a congregation may wish to consider before changing its custom of reading the list of memorial names. The principal issue addressed by the responsum concerned members who made memorial donations in the expectation that names would be read, which was not an issue faced by our congregation. However, the responsum also contained an interesting discussion of the purpose of reading the list. The consensus of our group was that we had a sacred obligation to recall the names of the departed, even if there was no one left in the congregation to otherwise mourn them (or perhaps even especially so). There was no impetus to cull the list, at least at present. (On the other hand, our congregation is over 150 years old, and we are not reading names from 150 years ago. We do not know when the custom of reading the list started, or to what extent the list has been culled.

                For those who are interested, the responsum [can be found on the CCAR Web site at through the left banner link “Documents and Positions”].


    1900 families
  34. Jul 2006 Digest 123

                There are five different versions of the Kaddish. Chatzi Kaddish, Kaddish Shalem, Kaddish Titkabeil, Kaddish Yatom, Kaddish D'Rabbanan, and Kaddish L'itchadatah. Chatzi Kaddish separates between sections of a worship service. Kaddish Shaleim is recited at the end of a worship service; this is in addition to the Kaddish Yatom or Mourner's Kaddish. Kaddish D'Rabbanan is the "scholar's Kaddish" and is recited upon the completion of study. Lastly, the Kaddish L'itchdatah is an expanded form of the Mourner's Kaddish recited by some at the cemetery after a burial. It is this final version, Kaddish L'itchadatah, that is found in the UPB and includes additional Aramaic text that you have asked about in your post to iWorship [“the extra paragraph in Mourner's Kaddish in the Union Prayer Book”]. Interestingly, this additional text was most often eliminated on the pulpit by rabbis during the heyday of UPB use in Reform Temples; this was my experience in the Detroit metropolitan area during my formative years!

                The UPB service is heard regularly on WQXR in New York (96.3 FM) on Fridays from 5:30-6:00pm. WQXR has a live-streaming aspect on its website, For those who do not live in New York area, you may be able to access the service remotely in this way.

    Cantor Alane Katzew

    Director of Music Programming

    URJ Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living
  35. Jul 2006 Digest 123

                [The extra paragraph in Mourner's Kaddish in the Union Prayer Book]…is an invention of the learned lay editors of the Hamburg Temple Prayerbook (1819) so to give explicit mention in the Mourner's Kaddish of an afterlife. (Traditionally, there is no reference in the Mourner's Kaddish to life beyond the grave.) This interesting additional paragraph ('Al yisrael ve-'al tsaddiqaya) is couched in Aramaic, the language of all the varieties of Kaddish Cantor Katzew cites [in her posting]. Most Reform prayer books in the 19th century through all the editions of the Union Prayer Book included it. It stopped being used at all with the appearance of the Gates of Prayer.

  36. Jul 2006 Digest 125

                …we do read quite a long list of names. I was a bit surprised how long the list was when I arrived in the congregation about thirteen years ago. But as I know more, I find myself adding mental notes about who was connected to whom, and how the whole place (and Judaism--and Reform) has remained alive. We are about 130 years old, so it's a pretty long list every week here too. But the weekly recitation is important. And yes, it is very different to me than the Mi Shebeirach list, which can change.

  37. Dec 2006 Digest 189

                In our congregation, we ask people in their membership package to identify yahrzeits. Any that come along after the start of membership are added. Each congregant is given the choice of using either the Hebrew or English date for the yahrzeit.

                Then, approximately two weeks before the yahrzeit, a letter from our Ritual Committee is sent out…In the letter it states something to the effect of "It is a mitzvah to remember our loved one with a donation in their memory..." A check-sized envelope is included with the letter. I can get the exact wording if anyone is interested--this week I have a number of yahrzeits--so the letters are somewhat handy.

                It is up to the congregant to mail in a donation if they choose, and when. I tend to do several at a time, but most of my yahrzeits are clustered. There is never pressure on anyone to *have* to donate or how much. Sometimes, the memory is too much to handle to manage paperwork like that at the time of the yahrzeit.

                We have a number of funds with our congregation to which one may donate. Once the donation is received, it is so noted in our monthly bulletin--


                Under the heading of the Music Fund:

                In celebration of the life of her beloved mother [loved one’s name], [contributor name]

                In memory of his father [loved one’s name], [contributor name]

                and so on.


                We do not publish dollar amounts.


    600 +/- families
  38. June 2007 Digest 104

                …my congregation's practice has been that for those members who have dedicated plaques, Torah Covers, altar covers, silver adornments, parochot, or any other such items as memorials to their loved ones, this is usually done as a means of having the names read into perpetuity; hence, such names are said at the appropriate time of the year, for yahrzeit. Notifications are also sent out defining the actual date (some want to have the secular date, but most want the Hebrew date). We maintain a data-base file for this purpose. And…yes there are times that the names are removed, normally when a family moves and is joining another congregation…

                …For sheloshim, the names are said each erev and Shabbat morning and are usually carried over for the next eleven months. These are usually put on the list at the request of the family.

                In reality, there is no main way to say Kaddish, with or without names--but public pronouncement seems to be most desired.

                …Anyone who donates a plaque or other items…in memoriam, the deceased is given an in perpetuity designation. We also have a Golden Book where one may list the deceased's name as well, this is also an in perpetuity designation.

  39. June 2007 Digest 104

                In my congregation, the rabbi invites to rise "those observing yahrzeit and those whose custom it is to rise for Kaddish." The vast majority of the congregation does rise and say Kaddish, but I applaud the respect this shows to those who prefer not to, especially in consideration to visitors, who might not be Reform. In addition, it gives an option for those, like myself, who stand to show support and solidarity with those who are saying Kaddish, but who prefer not to say the prayer themselves if they are not observing a yahrzeit. For me, the impact of Kaddish is most profound because I say it only when I am mourning a loved one, but as a Reform Jew I don't hesitate to extend that category to include friends and relatives other than my father, of blessed memory.


    150 families
  40. June 2007 Digest 105

                Several years ago our rabbi brought the idea of not reading the entire yahrzeit list. As our congregation continues to grow and age, the list can be quite long some weeks and the correct pronunciation of the names often presents a challenge. The Ritual Committee would have none of it. After a thought-provoking discussion we concluded that it was our duty as a holy community to read aloud the names of those who have passed. We felt it was a mitzvah to evoke the memory of mothers, fathers, siblings, etc., even if the person whose family member[’s] yahrzeit [it is,] is not present. It may add a few minutes to the service but it was an act of respect to those that have come before. We also agreed that the rabbi would read only the name and not the "Name mother of congregant so and so." This allows for a much smoother recitation of the names. All names and the congregational relationship are listed in the weekly Shabbos handout.

                It is also our minhag for the entire congregation to rise and recite Kaddish. To stand together as a community for those in need of support and for those who may no longer have someone to say Kaddish. For me this was a profound change of practice having grown up in the Conservative Movement but a responsibility I now embrace and take seriously. So much so that when I am in a Conservative or Orthodox shul I will stand and recite the Kaddish.


  41. June 2007 Digest 108

                It is possible to preserve both traditions. Before I read the Kaddish list I say, "For those of you who are here to recite Kaddish for a loved one, I ask you to rise as a mourner as you hear your loved one's name called." After I ask for additional names I say, "I ask the congregation to rise and join the mourners as we recite Kaddish together as a community."

                This enables us to acknowledge the mourners, not make them feel uncomfortable reciting Kaddish themselves, and also allows the congregation to say Kaddish for those who have no one to say Kaddish for them.

  42. June 2007 Digest 114

                According to the URJ Press publication, Jewish Living by Rabbi Mark Washofsky, chair of CCAR Responsa Committee, "Jewish law...declares that proselytes are duty-bound to show honor and respect to their parents, for conversion to Judaism does not relieve one of an elemental moral responsibility recognized by all faiths and cultures. Since honoring one's parents includes the mitzvah of mourning and memory, Reform Judaism permits and encourages the Jew-by-choice to recite Kaddish and to observe the rites of mourning for his or her non-Jewish parents and relatives" (p. 202).


    150 families
  43. June 2007 Digest 114

                The problem with culling all the "non-Jewish names" from the list is that how are you to know whether the deceased is Jewish with a non-Jewish surname or non-Jewish. Many of our members are Jewish women, married to non-Jewish spouses, or have parents who were married to non-Jewish spouses (thus making their offspring Jewish in any of the denominations). Who will make the determination in your synagogue as to whether or not the deceased actually was Jewish?

  44. June 2007 Digest 114

                It is my own practice when there is a loss of someone close to me to mention their name myself (our clergy always go around the congregation asking for names to be mentioned of those loved ones not on the list).

                More often than not these individuals are not Jewish and are not relatives. An example, my executive assistant for twenty years passed away, and I mentioned her name following her burial and I mentioned it on the first anniversary of her death.

                I didn't think to ask that the name be on the "read list", it never occurred to me not to mention the name myself. My measure is how much my heart aches at the loss.

                Similarly, on Mi Shebeirach, I often mention names of non-Jews. The week after Elizabeth Edwards’ diagnosis was made public I felt compelled, in part because my wife is also a breast cancer survivor, to mention her name.

                I notice that others periodically do the same thing.


    ~1400 families
  45. June 2007 Digest 114

                In our congregation people often mention their non-Jewish friends and co-workers; when we had a standing list, there were several who remained on the list month after month. (That list has been eliminated completely. When someone calls during the week to let me know of a need, I will read the name (Jewish or not) for two weeks. After that, they must either call the name in again or call it out at the service.)

                Given that at least half of our congregation is either intermarried or not born Jewish, and the fact that we are both a small community and a tiny minority in the area, most of those we interact with and care about day to day are not Jewish…

  46. June 2007 Digest 114

                As Reform Jews in a changing world there is no reason not to mention, or ask [that] the name be added to the "read list", of anyone you, or another congregant, loved and wants remembered. This is a topic that was not discussed in my conversion classes, but that was a long time ago and perhaps things have changed. It took me many years to work up the courage to have my mother, and now my grandmother and great grandmother added to the Kaddish list and Book of Remembrance. I can't tell you what peace it has given me to be able to do that.

  47. June 2007 Digest 115

                We also have a concern with our Yahrzeit list growing, but it only becomes an issue when we read the entire list at our Yom Kippur Memorial Service. We have over 50% interfaith couples as members and have (and continue) to include non-Jews in our Yahrzeit list when asked.

                Our issue is with our annual Book of Remembrance for the Yom Kippur Memorial Service. In the past, we have sent letters to the membership asking them to make a donation in honor of their loved ones, and have printed the names of all people on our Yahrzeit list, whether a donation was made or not. As expected, we received few donations this way. The time has come to rethink this approach and we are looking to learn what other congregations do. We’d also like to know which names you read aloud at the memorial service. We previously have read our entire Yahrzeit list, donations or not, (again, no distinction between Jews or non-Jews). Our inclination going forward is not to read any names during the Yom Kippur Memorial Service, and publish only those names in the Book when donations are made, or people have purchased perpetual memorials. As we expect this approach may not sit well with some members, we are looking for what is done in other congregations.


    ~160 families
  48. June 2007 Digest 115

                As a very small congregation, for many years we had the same problem--we had lists with names of people no one could even identify anymore. Consequently about five years ago, we came up with the following procedure, which has worked well:

                First we started with a clean slate. Now, each year we send out a form to every member about a month or so before the HH. They list every name they wish to have on the Yizkor list and if they know the date it is also put on the monthly list. Here is the "catch" to keep things in check: we request a $3.00 or more per name donation! It has shortened the lists and made a very good fund raiser. (Obviously, in our particular congregation, there are some who cannot afford this, so they make a very small donation of say $5.00--but they also respectfully keep their list to their immediate family members). Others are very generous and donate much more per name. It has greatly discouraged the listing of many names of 2nd cousins 12 times removed and friends etc...At both the Yizkor and weekly Yahrzeits we also always verbally include those who no longer have anyone to say Kaddish for them--and as we personally care for our own cemetery--dating back over 100 years, we very much feel "close" and responsible for them. Most of us honor our neighbors/friends simply speaking the name after their funeral for that month.

                As far as the "non-Jewish" names, we have found they are immediate members of our congregants’ families. Also--please don't go by a name alone…many Jewish families have Anglicized names, not to mention Jews-by-choice who also could have non-Jewish names. To judge a person's "Jewishness" by their name can be as silly as to judge it by their skin color or ethnicity.

  49. June 2007 Digest 115

                Our Memorial Book is limited to those who contribute. The list read at Yom Kippur Yizkor is all who died since last Yom Kippur. Shabbat list is all in shiva/sh’loshim, plus Yahrzeits of those who responded to a reminder letter that they would be present. (No one monitors if they actually are.) We also have memorial plaques that are lighted for yahrzeit.

                Names can also be added to the list right before services--direct request to clergy--plus rabbi invites names to be mentioned aloud. (I believe that some mention a name of someone they're thinking about, whether or not it's yahrzeit or in the mourning period…)

                Since the congregation is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the Yahrzeit list could be staggering. And it seems likely that those who were put on the list 100+ years ago expected to be remembered in perpetuity. By omitting a name of a long-deceased member, are we breaking faith with a legitimate expectation? If a tree falls in the forest....


    Approx 1000
  50. June 2007 Digest 117

                It is not liturgically incorrect to have the list announced by the rabbi include non-Jewish names on it. As well, there is no liturgical prohibition to having a memorial plaque for a non-Jew. The following is from an article on the URJ website concerning Kaddish for the Pope, by Rabbi Michael Friedman. It would follow then, if we can include an important non-Jew on the Kaddish list, we can include Jews of lesser world renown than the Pope, those of friends.



    ARTICLE BY RABBI FRIEDMAN: "question can really be broken down into multiple pieces. First, we must ask: Can we recite Kaddish for a non-Jew? A survey of Reform responsa leads to the conclusion that there is no prohibition against saying Kaddish for a gentile. As far back as 1933, rabbis ruled that a convert to Judaism may say Kaddish for his deceased (non-Jewish) father. In fact, authorities have gone so far as to suggest that a Jew by choice is not only allowed to say Kaddish for a parent, but that he is obligated to do so just as any born Jew is.


    But of course, those examples only refer to a Jew who is saying Kaddish for a close family member. So perhaps the question should be re-phrased: May we include an important non-Jewish figure on our Kaddish list? In fact, there is a long history of Jews performing rituals on behalf of non-Jews. In the ancient Temple in Jerusalem the priests sacrificed seventy oxen in behalf of the seventy nations. Further, we learn in the Talmud that for the sake of peace we should visit Gentiles who are sick and we should help bury their dead. So there are precedents. And furthermore, we must remember that the Kaddish is not so much a prayer for the dead as it is an expression of praise to God. Therefore, as Rabbi Solomon B. Freehof wrote, “You are completely justified 'to utter this praise of God' in honor of a deceased Christian."


  51. June 2007 Digest 117

                Names are read in our congregation without an honorific--not Mr. ________--except that we read Dr., Judge, and Rabbi--and would probably read Senator or Ambassador…I always find myself bothered when those titles are read--somewhere in the siddur it says something about the grave being the great equalizer, so why discriminate here?



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