1. Find a Synagogue

Looking for a place to say the Kaddish? You can find the closest Chabad synagogue to your location at our Chabad Center Finder. If you don't find a synagogue nearby please contact us.

What if you don't have a synagogue nearby? You might still discover you can get together a minyan (that’s a quorum of ten male Jews, age 13+) of Jews to say Kaddish. You'll be amazed: there's something inside of people that lights up when it comes to helping out with a Kaddish. Read this story for one example.

2. Different Strokes for Different Folks

Different communities have different customs and slightly different versions of the Kaddish. Find out from your rabbi (or a synagogue regular) what the customs are and what version of the Kaddish they use. Our Kaddish Tutor allows you to learn the Kaddish in more than one version. With time, we plan to add even more versions.

3. How to Dress

On weekdays, people come to services in their workday clothes. Shabbat is a little more formal.

On weekdays (Sunday through Friday), while you’re there, you’ve got a great opportunity to score another mitzvah: ask the rabbi for help wrapping in tallit and tefillin. These are worn for the morning prayers, but if you missed the morning, you can still put on the tefillin in the afternoon. See our tefillin page for more info.

As much as saying the Kaddish can do for the soul of the deceased, that tallit and tefillin can carry it even higher. At first, it may seem a little awkward, but with time it starts to feel just right. You might want to ask your rabbi if he can help you purchase your own set of tallit and tefillin.

4. Make Contact

Before you turn up, it's a good idea to speak with the rabbi of the synagogue. Let him know you'll be there. Find out the times for prayers. Don't be embarrassed to ask him for some help while you get used to his synagogue.

But if you didn't, don't worry about it. Some synagogues are more user-friendly than others, but every synagogue is friendly when you enter with a smile and ask for help. The Chabad policy is that anyone who walks in off the street is a member.

5. When Is Kaddish Said?

Jews pray three times a day, morning, afternoon and night. The morning prayer is the longest and the mourners say at least one Kaddish at the beginning and several at the end. For the afternoon and evening prayers, the mourners say the Kaddish only once or twice at the end.

Click here for a Kaddish Timeline.

5. Counting for the Minyan

To say the Kaddish, there must be ten male Jews, age 13 and up in the room. They all have to be in the same room, not out in the hallway or hiding in the closet. It's best if they are all awake, but if one of them just won't wake up, you can still count him. If you start the Kaddish and someone leaves, someone should try to get him back. If he's totally lost, finish the Kaddish without him.

How To Count To Ten, Real Fast:

We don't count Jews. We have historical evidence that it's not a good idea (King David counted the Jews in his kingdom and a plague ensued). Instead, people use a verse of the Psalms that has ten words and then check to see if there's one Jew in the room for each of the words. Here's the standard verse:

[Hosheah Es Amecha, Uvarech Es Nachlosecha, Uriem Vna'asem Ad Oilom]

Here's a neat alternative: Visualize the people in the room in three groups of three. Then add the guy who's leading the prayers at the front. (3 x 3) + 1…you get the idea.

6. Getting in Synch

Originally, only one person in the synagogue was honored with saying the Kaddish, but eventually every eligible mourner made his way onto the scene. Problem is, with more than one mourner saying Kaddish, the result could sound more like a noisy flock of Aramaic geese. The main point of the exercise, as we've explained, is not to say the Kaddish, but that everyone should answer. It's hard to answer ten geese all on different tracks. So getting everyone in synch is of key importance.

Many synagogues ask that all the mourners line up together. Others tell you to please follow the prayer leader. If you find you can't keep up, try standing close to the others and read louder, so they'll notice and slow down. People are usually considerate about these things. Never be embarrassed that you're going too slow. It's a house of prayer, not a racetrack.

7. Answering "Amen" and "Y’hay Shmay Rabba"

Anyone who hears the Kaddish must answer. In fact, as great as it is to say the Kaddish, answering Amen is even greater. The exception is someone who is in the middle of a prayer that he's not allowed to interrupt. (We'll have to get to those details somewhere else.)

When it comes to Amen, y'hay shmay rabba…, our sages taught us to answer in a loud voice and with all our attention. That doesn't mean to scream—just that we should put ourselves into what we are doing. "Even if a heavenly decree has been signed and sealed for seventy years," the Talmud tells us, "if a person answers 'Amen, y'hay shmay rabba…' with all his power and attention, it will be rescinded on his behalf."

There is also a teaching, attributed to Elijah the prophet, to tack the first word of the next line onto the response, like this:

Amen, y'hay shmay rabba m'vorach l'olam ulalmay almaya…yisboraych

8. How to Stand and When to Bow

The Kaddish is said standing with your feet together. Before the last phrase, take three steps back. Now comes the bowing procedure, like this:

Bow slightly to the right and say: Oseh shalom bim-ro-mov

Bow slightly straight ahead and say: Hoo

Bow slightly to the left and say: Ya’aseh shalom aleinu

Bow slightly straight ahead and say: V’al kol yisrael ve-imru amen

(This reflects Chabad practice. Others have different customs.)