The Mourner’s Kaddish is said during the three daily prayer services, in the presence of a minyan (quorum of ten adult Jews), during the eleven months following the death of a parent or close relative, and on the Yahrzeit, or anniversary of the death of a parent or close relative. The date for observing a Yahrzeit is its date in the Hebrew calendar, beginning with the evening service, and continuing on through the following morning and afternoon services.
A conversion tool for converting secular calendar dates to Hebrew dates can be found at: http://www.hebcal.com
In addition to the recitation of the Kaddish following a death or on a Yahrzeit, there are four memorial services, called Yizkor services, held on Yom Kippur, Pesah, Shavuot, and Sh’mini Atzeret. The Yizkor dates for 5777 (2016-2017) are:
- Yom Kippur, September 30, 2017/ 10 Tishre
- Sh’mini Atzeret: October 12, 2017/ 22 Tishre
- Pesah: April 7/ 22 Nisan
- Shavuot: May 21, 2018/ 7 Sivan
A few years ago, several congregants began attending daily minyan to say kaddish for the recent loss of a parent. By attending minyan regularly, the individuals became a cohort, comfort and support for each other. The Minyonnaires and Moshe embraced them along their eleven month healing journeys. Here are some of their thoughts on the minyan experience.
I have been attending evening minyan on a regular basis since my father’s death in March. Initially, I came because there was nothing else I could do. Then, I continued to come because I felt it would be important to my father. Now, I come because I like the little community we have at evening services and I know that I can think about my dad for that half hour each day. When my mourning period is over, I probably won’t come every night. However, I will come at least once a week because I know that the minyan means a lot to mourners and I want to be there for them.
I am not sure why I come to minyan – to honor my mother? To be a good daughter? To have time to reflect daily on our relationship? The routine of coming has become important to me. The words of prayer become more familiar and more healing each day. The people I pray with have become a community. Time passes and loss becomes accepted.
When my father died, I started saying Kaddish. As a psychologist I have worked with people on grief and healing, I had not however anticipated the healing power of the Minyon. Over the past 9 months and as my year of Kaddish comes to an end, I have found comfort and great joy in the Minyon. I came home one day and my wife said, “Andy, it sounds like you are actually having fun there”. This observation was true. Praying with my fellow Jews has been a great source of comfort. To see people who have all gone through loss and have survived, inspired me to believe that I also will get through my loss and to know inside that my life will go on and I will be fine. To connect with my fellow Jews of all ages, shapes and sizes and to joke around and laugh at 6:45am has helped me to further realize how important community and laughter are, and how they can help you to live a vibrant life way into your 90’s! Minyon has been more than I ever imagined it would be, not the least of which, that it has given me a way to continue to connect with my father and to grieve him. I hope to continue to attend, not only to give back to others what they have given to me, but also to continue to receive from the communal/spiritual beauty that it offers. To Moshe and all those that have shared this journey and continue to share it with me, thank you.”
Regarding what I get out of attending minyan and saying Kaddish for my late beloved mother, let’s say I find a good deal of comfort being with other Jews, on a daily basis when it is time to set aside a few moments to formally remember her. I also get comfort knowing that I am making sacrifices to do this in the company of other Jews. I owe her this much and more, for all the sacrifices she made for me each and every day.
I participated in minyan at the Emanuel during the recent eleven months I said kaddish after my beloved mother passed away. I found minyan similar to Shabbat in the sense that they are both very special gifts and opportunities we Jews have to pause, reflect and think about our lives and our relationship with G-d and with our fellow human beings. Minyan is a very beautiful, meaningful and powerful ritual that provides so much benefit. Try it and I’m confident you’ll like it!
After the loss of my father, I began attending minyan with my mother twice a day. I hated getting up in the morning at 6:45 to go (I am not a morning person) but this is what I had to do. After the first 30 days, I started going by myself. It had become a routine and I now had a connection with the other mourners. We were like a club (not a club that anyone would want to join voluntarily) and we were all there to hold each other up. We shared laughter, little jokes and a lot of tears. The regular Minyanaires were a wonderful bunch. The highlight of my mornings would be Ebner singing “Did you ever see a dream…walking”. It would make me laugh every time and it helped so much. I was a sight, just having rolled out of bed into my sweats into the car that went on autopilot to the shul. Faith and Joy would chuckle and Rick would hip check me. Gloria would be ready to lay out the greeting card of the day on the Shtender. I sat right behind Rabbi Lazowski every time. He greeted me every day with his jubilant joie de vivre and always patted me on the head to make me smile – to comfort me – to take care of me. When morning minyan was over, Moshe would invite everyone to “the main dining hall” for breakfast and would turn to me and say “Laila Tov” because everyone knew that my bed was waiting for me to complete my night’s rest. When Andy asked me if I was going to say Kaddish for a full year, my reply was “are you???” and then we just did. With Michael, Ira, Francene, Ava, Sharone, Phil and Andy in your club, who could ask for a better, more comforting group to share this? It is unbelievable to go through four seasons while observing this mitzvah of saying Kaddish. We struggled to get a minyan in the winter during snowstorms, but we did it. In the summer, we knocked on doors on Fuller Drive. We did what we had to do, to ensure that we had 10. The friendships that were made and the comfort that I received from the Emanuel Minyanaires is something that cannot be described. On my last day of reciting Kaddish for 11 months, I couldn’t make it through. The tears were flowing, the words choked back by sobs, but Moshe was there with his hand on my back, finishing the prayer for me. When I sat during the Maariv Kaddish following MY last Kaddish during Mincha, I turned to see Andy crying. He was saying it without me. It was the most powerful feeling – we had a real connection. When we all hugged goodnight, it was like the end of the Wizard of Oz, and I said “and you scarecrow Andy, I will miss you most of all.” The friendships that were made and the connections to people that I never would have really gotten to know are an incredible gift that I received from the Minyanaires.
We, Moshe and the Minyonnaires invite all congregants and all Jews who live in or are visiting our community to join us for daily minyan. If you are able to join the growing number of people willing to commit to attending once a week, once a month or a few times a year, please call or email Moshe Pinchover 860-236-1275, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you come, you will enjoy a respite from your hectic daily life, connect with your community and ensure that those in mourning have a minyan to say kaddish. Our minyan times change throughout the year. Call the office 860-236-1275 or visit our website homepage to find the time.