Marking a Yahrzeit at Home

Marking a Yahrzeit at Home

What is a Yahrzeit?

At Congregation Rodeph Sholom, we have the custom of placing a stone on slate when we mark the yahrzeit, the anniversary of a loved one’s death, in the synagogue on Shabbat or during Yizkor. This ritual recollects the tradition of placing small stones on a headstone as an act of memorial and tribute when we visit a gravesite in the cemetery.

As we increasingly observe the different stages of mourning—shivah, sheloshim, and shanah—as well as loved ones’ yahrzeits at home, this new ritual offers another way to physically mark memory. You may wish to use this ritual, or parts of it, when your loved one’s name is read for Mourner’s Kaddish during services, or whenever else you choose to remember them.

Ritual of Memorial

Before you begin, gather a yahrzeit candle and one button for each person you are remembering and for each person participating in the ritual. Alternatively, you can use another object that reminds you of the person you are remembering.

Begin by lighting the yahrzeit candle. Then, read the following meditation silently or aloud:

נֵר יְהוָה נִשְׁמַת אָדָם
Ner Adonai nishmat adam (Proverbs 20:27)
The human soul is the lamp of the Eternal God.

(I/we) light this candle in memory of (my/our) beloved __________.

As this candle burns, may its light remind (me/us) of the ways in which __________ illumined (my/our) world through (her/his/their) life.

[Add your own reflection on a memory or characteristic of your loved one that continues to be a blessing in your life. As you conclude, place a button next to the yahrzeit candle.]

When our grief was raw, we tore our lapels or ribbons, reflecting the hole that your death left in our lives. Today, we mark this anniversary of your passing with the memorial of a button. While the empty space of your absence remains, the button—the memories and legacy you left, those who have strengthened and sustained (me/us), and the passage of time—fills part of the gap, creating a point of connection and closure. As (I/we) recite Mourner’s Kaddish, we acknowledge that death is a part of the circle of life, and that we are all part of an eternal Oneness in which each of our lives finds completion.

[Recite Mourner’s Kaddish.]

זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה
Zichrono liv’rachah
His memory is a blessing.

זִכְרוֹנָהּ לִבְרָכָה
Zichrona liv’rachah
Her memory is a blessing.

זִכְרוֹנֵה לִבְרָכָה
Zichroneh liv’rachah
Their memory is a blessing.

Resources for Reflection

Yahrzeit Light Prayer

Love Song to the House of Mourning

Eternal Rest, Eternal Peace

The Journey Through Grief

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Yahrzeit at CRS

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