Yahrzeit and Yizkor

By InterfaithFamily



Return to Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families


In many cultures, there are ways of remembering dead people who were important to us. In the United States, for example, families go to visit relatives who died in the military on Memorial Day. In Ashkenazi Jewish culture, there is a custom of lighting a candle on the anniversary, or in Yiddish, the yahrzeit, of the person’s death. Some families also light a memorial candle when they do holiday candle-lighting before holidays when there is a memorial service, called Yizkor. Some people continue to light yahrzeit candles for the rest of their lives.

Visits to the graves of family members are an important part of Jewish folk culture. Some have the custom of visiting at the Jewish New Year. Jews of Eastern European origin usually leave a small stone on the headstone of the grave rather than flowers. Even after the year of mourning has ended, mourners continue to feel the loss of the person who has died, and Jewish cultural practices acknowledge this.

The Guide to Death and Mourning for Interfaith Families is also available as a downloadable PDF and Word document.


About InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship will provide offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have suggestions, please contact network@interfaithfamily.com.