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Yizkor - The Memorial Prayer

Yizkor - The Memorial Prayer

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Yizkor, a special memorial prayer for the departed, is recited in the synagogue four times a year, following the Torah reading on the last day of Passover, on the second day of Shavuot, on Shemini Atzeret and on Yom Kippur.

See Yizkor dates in coming years here.

The Meaning of Yizkor

Yizkor, in Hebrew, means "Remember." It is not only the first word of the prayer, it also represents its overall theme. In this prayer, we implore G‑d to remember the souls of our relatives and friends that have passed on.

When we recite Yizkor, we renew and strengthen the connection between us and our loved one, bringing merit to the departed souls, elevating them in their celestial homes.

The main component of Yizkor is our private pledge to give charity following the holiday in honor of the deceased. By giving charity, we are performing a positive physical deed in this world, something that the departed can no longer do.

The soul gains additional merit if the memory of its good deeds spur their loved ones to improve their ways.

Who Says Yizkor

It is customary for those with both parents alive to leave the synagogue during the Yizkor service. A mourner during the first year remains in the synagogue, but does not recite the Yizkor. Some kindle a 24-hour Yizkor candle (before the holiday).

In addition to reciting Yizkor for one's parents, one may recite Yizkor for any Jew who has passed on, including relatives and friends. When reciting Yizkor for more than one person, repeat the Yizkor paragraph each time, and substitute the words "Aböh Mori" (my father), or " Imi Morösi" (my mother), with the appropriate title, as follows: For a Husband: "Ba-ali." Son: "B'ni." Brother: "Öchi ." Uncle: "Dodi." Grandfather: "Z'kainy" . Wife: " Ishti." Daughter: "Biti." Sister: "Achosi." Aunt: "Dodosi." Grandmother: "Z'ken-ti."

Text of Yizkor

For a father (and all males) say:

Hebrew and Transliteration:

Translation:

May G‑d remember the soul of my father, my teacher (mention his Hebrew name and that of his mother) who has gone to his [supernal] world, because I will — without obligating myself with a vow — donate charity for his sake. In this merit, may his soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.

For a mother (and all females) say:

Hebrew and Transliteration:

Translation:

May G‑d remember the soul of my mother, my teacher (mention her Hebrew name and that of her mother) who has gone to her [supernal] world, because I will - without obligating myself with a vow - donate charity for her sake. In this merit, may her soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.

Continue here:

Translation:

May the All-Merciful Father Who dwells in the supernal heights, in His profound compassion, remember with mercy the pious, the upright and the perfect ones, the holy communities who gave their lives for the sanctification of the Divine Name.
They were beloved and pleasant in their lives, and [even] in their death were not parted [from Him]; they were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions to carry out the will of their Maker and the desire of their Creator.
May our G‑d remember them with favor together with the other righteous of the world, and avenge the spilled blood of His servants, as it is written in the Torah of Moses, the man of G‑d: O nations, sing the praises of His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, bring retribution upon His foes, and placate His land — His people.
And by Your servants the Prophets it is written as follows: I will cleanse [the nations of their wrongdoings,] but for the [shedding of Jewish] blood I will not cleanse them; the Lord dwells in Zion.
And in the Holy Writings it is said: Why should the nations say, "Where is their G‑d?" Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, the retribution of the spilled blood of Your servants. And it is said: For the Avenger of bloodshed is mindful of them; He does not forget the cry of the downtrodden. Further it is said: He will render judgment upon the nations, and they will be filled with corpses; He will crush heads over a vast area. He will drink from the stream on the way; therefore [Israel] will hold its head high.

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Anonymous NYC April 18, 2017

What if I have no one to say it for me when I die? Reply

Chana Benjaminson April 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

May you live a long, healthy and happy life! Many rabbis usually include the names of people who don't have relatives to say Yizkor for them, you can talk to your rabbi about that option in advance. If you don't have a rabbi, a Chabad rabbi will be happy to assist you please be in touch with us via the Feedback button above. Reply

Simcha M Bart October 20, 2016

If one cannot determine the Hebrew names of the deceased, one may use the secular names. Though Yizkor is recited specifically for Jewish deceased, you can still recite Psalms and give charity in honor of a non-Jew who has passed on. Charity can be given to public not strictly Jewish causes.

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org Reply

Michael Cedarhurst October 12, 2016

Saying Yizkor for a person when you do not know their hebrew name and their parents name I want to say Yizkur for a parents but I do not know their hebrew name nor the hebrew name of the parents. I do not have any family to ask. How do I remember them through Yizkur?

Also, í have an "aunt" who is nonJewish but has done more to mold me than anyone. She would be one I would want to remember more than anyone; is it permittable to say Yizkur for her?

How do I fulfill the obligation of charity? I support Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.), do my contributions to them mães the requiements for charity.
Thank you Reply

Michael Cedarhurst October 12, 2016

Yom Kippur fasting When did fasting fist become a requirement on Yom kippur? Reply

Linda Roa tampa June 10, 2016

thank you. Reply

Anonymous St Kilda East October 4, 2015

Yizkor for sister Should a person say Yizkor for their sister, if the parents are still alive? Reply

Anonymous hallandale September 23, 2015

Thank you for the prayers. Reply

hannah Florida September 21, 2015

Does anyone knows what prayer should I say when lighting the candle for my father's memory?

Thanks! Reply

Chabad.org Staff via chabadone.org September 20, 2015

To Jeremy I am so sorry for your loss, may G-d comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
You may attend Yizkor but the custom is not to say the actual prayer during the first year of mourning. Reply

Jeremy Hampshire September 18, 2015

Do I attend Yizkor next week as my father died 3 weeks ago Do I attend Yizkor next week as my father died 3 weeks ago Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via mychabad.org October 14, 2014

To Anonymous Yes, Yizkor is said on Shemin Atzeret (Thursday October 16 2014). Reply

Meryll Moss West Hempstead, NY via bachyouth.com October 14, 2014

MY Beautiful Son Jordan M son Jordan committed Suicide because he was so depressed that he asked one of his mentors to teach him how to love himself. I loved him, hugged him and showed him what love is. So, I was in shock. Then I learned through his Journals and therapist that he felt that his father did not show him love. It was very painful, filled with unbearable emotions that no one should have to go through....It happened in June 24, 2012. He was 19 and now would be 21....I miss him everyday...... Reply

Linda H UK May 30, 2017
in response to Meryll Moss:

I have just read your comment and I hope that you have some inner peace, as a mother of a son who struggles so deeply in life, my heart goes out to you. Reply

Anonymous BROOKLYN October 13, 2014

Is there Yiskor service during Last 2 days of Succoth ? Reply

michaelstevenspiegel August 30, 2014

thanks rabbi for this page Thanks this computer and for the special memorial prayer found at this website. My father Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC September 30, 2013

Re: Kaddish is said during the 11 months after a loved one passes away and on their Yartzeit each year. Although it does not mention death specifically, there is great significance to it being said by the mourner (see chabad.org/255986) is a great merit for the soul of the loved one.

Yizkor is a prayer recited on many of the holidays, as stated above, in which we remember the loved ones and pledge to give charity in their name. Reply

Leibe Bayla NJ September 26, 2013

YIzkor Thank you for making it easy to find whatever prayers we need at that time. I wasn't sure which prayers to say for my parents for yizkor. Reply

Elliot NJ September 19, 2013

Yizkor versus Kaddish what is the difference between Yizkor and Kaddish. As a child, my parents used to say Kaddish. As an adult, I was told it was Yizkor. Reply

Stuart Cooper Miami September 14, 2013

Yitzkor Lost my father recently and said Yitzkor for the first time. Reply

Gershon Hatalmid KS May 17, 2013

How Many Candles? Adding an extra candle for each parent surely can do no harm. A little more light in a dark world is a good thing... Reply

Zevulun Sakon Nakhon, Thailand May 14, 2013

Kindle Yizkor Candle? If, G-d forbid, both parents are deceased and one chooses to practice the custom of kindling a candle...is one or two lit?
Reply

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