Home > Yahrtzeit >> > What is a Yahrtzeit?
"Yahr-tzeit" is a Yiddish word meaning 'annual time', refers to the annual memorial day of the passing of a Jew. The date of the Yahrtzeit is the date of death according to the Jewish calendar.

It is not related either to the date of burial nor to the end of the eleven month Kaddish recital period nor to the date on the Gentile calendar at the time of passing. (In Hebrew, the term used is Azkara/ Day of memorial)

There are many customs associated with this day. The most important are:
  • A 24-hour "Yahrtzeit" candle is lit at nightfall the evening before the Yahrtzeit date on behalf of each person being memorialized. It is customary to let this candle burn out by itself even if it burns for more than 24 hours.
  • Kaddish is recited together with a quorum - a minyan - of at least ten Jewish men during all three daily services, beginning on the eve of the Jewish date.
  • This is a propitious day for visiting the grave. If it is not possible on the exact day (if it falls on Shabbat, for example, or difficult travel or weather conditions), another day within three days before or after can be utilized.
  • Psalms and the Kel Malei Rachamim prayer are recited at the cemetery. The Kaddish prayer is also recited if a minyan is present. (It is praiseworthy to gather a minyan, as the Kaddish prayer is very important for the soul of the deceased.)
  • Some pious Jews will fast from before daylight to after nightfall. Other pious Jews prefer instead to bring to synagogue some drink appropriate for those in attendance to say L’Chaim upon, as well as some cake, cookies a/o dried fruits to accompany the drink.
  • Charity and acts of kindness in the name of the deceased loved one should be increased on this day.