Yizkor and Yahrzeit

There are two words in the Jewish tradition most commonly associated with remembrance of those who have died; yizkor — a Hebrew word meaning “may He [God] remember” and yahrzeit — a Yiddish word meaning anniversary (yahr = year, zeit = time). Yizkor refers to a communal worship service that takes place four times a year, on Yom Kippur; and during each of the three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. The service derives its name from the first word of the core prayer which begins “Yizkor Elohim et nishmat…” — may God remember the soul of ….”  

Yizkor has become a cherished way to turn the pain of loss into meaningful, visible support for the living. Each year, Riverdale Temple publishes The Book of Remembrance to be read during the Yizkor service on Yom Kippur, which features the names of deceased loved ones and family members.  We publish this book to encourage every member of our community to participate in the sustenance of a living and vibrant Judaism.

Yahrzeit is the personal commemoration of the anniversary of death of immediate relatives; parent, spouse, sibling or child. Traditionally, one lights a memorial candle on the eve of the actual date of death and joins a daily minyan (quorum needed for public prayer) to recite kaddish on the anniversary.  At Riverdale Temple, our custom is for members to observe yahrzeit on the Sabbath immediately following the anniversary, when the names of loved ones are recalled before the recitation of the kaddish. We invite the entire congregation to rise with the mourners as a sign of community, solidarity, and comfort and community.

Mourner’s Kaddish

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba.

B’alma di v’ra chirutei,

v’yamlich malchutei,

b’chayeichon uv’yomeichon

uv’chayei d’chol beit Yisrael,

baagala uviz’man kariv. V’im’ru: Amen.

Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varach

l’alam ul’almei almaya.

Yitbarach v’yishtabach v’yitpaar

v’yitromam v’yitnasei,

v’yit’hadar v’yitaleh v’yit’halal

sh’mei d’kud’sha b’rich hu,

l’eila min kol birchata v’shirata,

tushb’chata v’nechemata,

daamiran b’alma. V’imru: Amen.

Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya,

v’chayim aleinu v’al kol Yisrael.

V’imru: Amen.

Oseh shalom bimromav,

Hu yaaseh shalom aleinu,

v’al kol Yisrael. V’imru: Amen.


Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world

which He has created according to His will.

May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days,

and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon;

and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored,

adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He,

beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that

are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us

and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights,

may He create peace for us and for all Israel;

and say, Amen.