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Join date : 2012-11-12
Age : 29

PostSubject: Yahrzeit   Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:54 pm

Hi everyone.

I have a...thing to ask. The 17th anniversary of my mother's death is this week. She was an agnostic, and I'm still a non-Jew on my journey to conversion. (I have no idea how far along that path I am, really). Would it be wrong for me to observe yahrzeit or some form of yahrzeit for her? would it be breaking halacha to stumble my way through Mourner's Kaddish for her? And did I miss my chance because by the Hebrew calendar it would have been the 11th, not the 15th, like the civil calendar?
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:38 pm

While you're not required to say it, there shouldn't be an issue with you doing it.
Say it during the Shabbat the week of anniversary. If you are attending a synagogue, ask your rabbi for guidance.

I started saying it for my Christian father before my conversion was complete. My rabbi told me to say it on the civil anniversary rather than the Hebrew date.
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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:51 pm

Thanks, James. That's very helpful. :)
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:53 pm

Glad to help, Widget.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:37 pm

Even when you convert, you're allowed to observe the Mourner's Kaddish for any of your non-Jewish relatives. It's my understanding that among Orthodox circles, you can only say the Mourner's Kaddish if one of your parents is dead (although you can observe it then for anyone, not only your parents), but there's no such rule among Reform or Conservative denominations. When I was in Reform shul, I often said the Mourner's Kaddish for murdered Jews, like the Fogel family.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:59 am

Mychal, I think you are thinking of the tradition that a person does not stay in the room for the Yizkor service (traditionally done on some holidays including Yom Kippur) if both of your parents are alive (the above link describes the minhag). Traditionally, Jews say Mourner's Kaddish (which is a part of each of the three traditional daily services) when mourning a first degree relative: "In the case of the death of a sibling, a child, or a spouse, Kaddish is recited for one month; when a parent dies, it is recited for 11 months." And thereafter that person recites the Mourner's Kaddish every year on the Hebrew anniversary of the death (yahrzeit, see link for other traditions for observing the anniversary of a death)

Saying Kaddish on the Shabbat of the week of the yahrzeit is a non-traditional modification to accommodate people who won't or can't attend weekday services and so would not be able to say Kaddish if the Hebrew anniversary falls on a weekday. These are typically people whose own congregation does not have weekday services and they are not comfortable with or able to attend a daily minyan elsewhere (which would likely be of a more traditional denomination than their own). Most members of my minyan are quite traditional, so they try to pray with a minyan for all three daily services to observe a yahrzeit. My minyan does have a daily morning minyan which the person can attend, and then the person will request that members come to form a minyan for one or two evening services (depending on the time of year which determines the times of Maariv and Minchah) specially to allow them to recite the Mourner's Kaddish (which requires a minyan to be said). When a member is sitting shiva (and choosing to observe it fully in the traditional way), the congregation will ensure that at least 10 members are present for both morning and evening services at the person's home so that they can say Kaddish for that week. I'm really proud of my minyan for being able to provide that support to mourners, especially since a "minyan" is more than 10% of the congregation membership. Some of the members of my minyan have continued to attend services in order to say Kaddish every day for the whole 11 months after the death of a parent. After the shiva period, those members generally attend my congregation's morning minyan and if they want to say it for all three mandated times, they find other congregations for afternoons and/or evenings.

Last Shabbat, the D'var Torah at my minyan was about the newly re-organized Shiva Committee. The topic connected to the Torah reading which was Parashat Chayei Sarah which describes Abraham's arrangements to secure a burial place for Sarah. The person who spoke lost her mother when she was 21 and remembers feeling so grateful to her community for supporting her family in their time of need. The committee will now have 9 members who can then rotate responsibility for a given shiva and who will ensure that there is everything that is needed at the shiva house: enough people for a minyan for every service, meals for the family and snacks for visitors, and siddurim for the services. In the past, it was often just one dedicated member who did all the organizing or a small ad hoc group would just volunteer as the need arose. I don't think all of the seats of the committee had even been taken when, just a few days later, a minyan member lost a parent and is currently sitting shiva. My husband usually only attends weekday morning minyan once a week, but he has attended morning services a few other days this week as he is able to help make a minyan.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:18 pm

Actually, I asked on AskMoses if I'm allowed to say Kaddish for people who are not related to me, and they said that yes, I could, but only if one of my parents was deceased.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Yahrzeit   Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:49 pm

That's an interesting tradition. I did a quick Google search and found other similar opinions that said: "If your parents are still living, you must ask permission from them to recite Mourner's Kaddish for someone else."

A book on Jewish mourning practices that was recommended by the woman who gave the d'var Torah is:
The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning written by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, a professor at RIETS of Yeshiva University, the important Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary in the US.

Upon reflection, I realize that it would be helpful to read this book before you need it since when you are in mourning yourself you have a lot of other things on your mind.
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