We are happy to read out the names of loved ones on the anniversary of their death, whether community members or visitors, when we say Kaddish in a service. For community members, it is important that Norwich LJC have an accurate list of Yahrzeits. The Yahrzeit co-odinator, Byron Simmonds, shall contact members when necessary to ensure that the list is accurate, or you can contact him directly here.
YAHRZEITS EXPLANATORY NOTE
Commemorating a Yahrzeit
Just as we celebrate the birthdays of the living, so we remember the anniversaries of the deaths of those whom we have loved. The anniversary of a person’s death is called a ‘Yahrzeit’ in Yiddish. By commemorating the day, we remember the person we cared for and honour their memory. They have died, but we keep their memory alive.
What do I do on a Yahrzeit?
As dusk falls, light a memorial candle. A “yahrzeit candle”1 will burn for 25 hours. There is no special blessing, although you might like to say kaddish2 and the preceding meditations on pages 522 and 523 of our Siddur3. You might also like to spend some quiet moments reading through the Memorial Service on pages 512 – 516.
You should come to shul to say kaddish with the whole community.
Before kaddish, the Rabbi will mention the names of all people whose yahrzeits fall during the month4.
It is customary for someone with a yahrzeit to be “given a mitzvah”5. For example, to be called up to recite the Torah6 blessings (in Hebrew or English), to recite the Haftarah7 blessings (in Hebrew or English). to read the Haftarah (in English), raising and undressing/dressing the Sefer Torah8, and so on.
When is the Yahrzeit?
Traditionally we mark a yahrzeit on the Hebrew date of death (not the date of the funeral).
At Norwich LJC we use the secular calendar for the purpose of announcing yahrzeits in the synagogue, with yahrzeits falling during the same month as the service. For candle-lighting at home you may wish to observe the Hebrew date.
If you do not know the Hebrew date, then if you let us have the date according to the secular calendar, we can tell you the Hebrew equivalent9.
Those with relatives who perished in the Holocaust should observe their yahrzeits on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on 27 Nissan10.
Norwich Liberal Jewish Community
January 2011 – updated September 2014
1 You should be able to buy these locally. For example, Sainsbury’s in Queens Road, Norwich stocks them.
2 Traditionally a prayer said by those mourning the death of a relative, at PJC this is commonly extended to those mourning the death of a friend, Jewish or otherwise.
3 Siddur Lev Chadash, Liberal Judaism’s Daily Prayer Book.
4 Were the Norwich LJC to hold weekly services then the Rabbi would mention the names of all people whose yahrzeits fall in the coming week.
5 Literally, a good deed.
6 The Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses.
7 A passage from the Prophets, which in some way compliments the week’s Torah portion. The Liberal Judaism Lectionary suggests passages from both the Prophets and the Writings.
8 Raising the scroll is known as Hagbaha. Dressing the scroll is known as Gelilah.
9 Don’t forget, each new Hebrew day starts at dusk, so if a person died after dusk, their yahrzeit will correspond to the secular date of the following day.
10 27 Nissan never falls on Shabbat. If it falls on a Friday then Yom HaShoah is moved to the Thursday (26 Nissan) so as not to come immediately before Shabbat. If it falls on a Sunday (as it does in 2011) then Yom HaShoah is moved to the Monday (28 Nissan) so as not to come immediately after Shabbat.