Remembering the Yahrzeit – Why to Light a Yahrzeit Memorial Candle?

Yahrzeit Memorial Candle

Scroll Down for the Mourner’s Kaddish Prayer Link

The 24-Hour Yahrzeit Memorial Candle

Yahrzeit is defined as “Remembering the souls of the past.” Before I can answer the question directly I need to exhibit how “light” in Judaism is significant. I guarantee it will be “illuminating” to say the least.

Post an Online Memorial to Your Loved One on Our Yahrzeit Anniversary of Death Memorials Page.
Share Your Memories and Keep Their Spirit Alive
in Our Online Community as per tradition. 

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” Genesis 1:1

Blessing for Shabbat Candle Lighting :
“Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with his Commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Light of the Holy Shabbat.” Exodus 31:16-17

Blessing of Fire from the Havdalah Prayer:
“Blessed are you, Adonai, King of the Universe, who creates the illuminations of fire.” Havdalah ends Shabbat on Saturday at sundown using the twisted Havdalah double wick candle.

The Eternal Flame in our Sanctuaries: (known as the Ner Tamid)
It symbolizes God’s eternal presence, and is therefore never extinguished.

Excerpt on Kindling the Chanukah Lights:
“We kindle these lights to commemorate the saving acts, miracles, and wonders which you have performed for our forefathers, in those days at this time.”

The Book of Proverbs (Chapter 20, Verse 27):
“The soul of man is the light of God.” Just as a flame is never still, the soul also continuously strives to reach up to God. Thus, the flickering flame of the candle helps to remind us of the departed soul of our loved one.

“Thus, the flickering flame of the candle helps to remind us of the departed soul of our loved one.” Beautiful!

Judaism recognizes that death is a part of life, and it is the duty of the living to remember the dead. We honor the memory of those no longer with us in life.

“Lighting a memorial candle offers the opportunity
to realize what really is important”


For Whom Do I Light a Memorial Candle?
You light a Yahrzeit candle for a parent, a spouse, a sibling or a child.

When to Light the Memorial Candle?
Lighting a memorial candle marks the anniversary of your dearly departed, beloved, family member.

It is customary to kindle a memorial light in the house, on the eve of the Hebrew date according to the Hebrew calendar.
Example: If the date is on a Wednesday, then light the candle Tuesday at sundown. I advise those that need more of a connection when lighting the memorial candle to place the photo of that family member beside it.
Remember: to always light the candle in a safe area of your home with good ventilation. The candle is encased in glass or metal. You can find Yahrzeit candles in your local supermarket. The candle lasts twenty-four hours. It should extinguish at the twenty-fourth hour.

It is not once, there are four times a year one lights a Yahrzeit candle, also known as the Memorial Candle. According to our teachings in Judaism, even on the most joyous of holidays and festivals, we remember our beloveds that have past on. For their memories live on Forever in Our Hearts and our thoughts.

[1] The Anniversary of the date of death of your beloved, it is called the Yahrzeit. It is customary to light the Yahrzeit according to the Hebrew Day and Hebrew Month for the Yahrzeit.

Since the calendar follows the Lunar Moon, those dates will rarely follow the Secular Calendar date your beloved had past on. It is best to obtain a Hebrew Calendar to assist you. The Secular Calendar and the Hebrew Calendar days, months are combined so you need not two calendars in your home or office.

[2] Yom Kippur
The day we remember the past year, reflecting, cleansing our souls…we remember them.

[3] Throughout the year, we light the Yahrzeit on the Three Pilgrimage Festivals preceding the last days of each festival.

Passover (Pesach)

When one looks at the Hebrew Calendar for the Pilgrimage Festivals, the Yizkor is noted on the eighth day of Passover, the second day of Shavuot and Shemni Atzeret. ( Shemni Atzeret separates Sukkot and Simchat Torah).

When to Light a Yahrzeit, Memorial Candle
It too is customary to light the Yahrzeit memorial candle the eve of the Yahrzeit Anniversary Hebrew date, the eve of the last night of the three pilgrimage festivals. Also known as when the sun goes down, sundown. Not to be confused, when a holiday or festival is one day, the candle is lit on the eve of that day as well.

It is tradition to say the Kaddish prayer (mourner’s prayer)

It is prepared in Hebrew and transliteration for those that read Hebrew and does not read Hebrew)   Mourners-Kaddish-Prayer-by-Rabbi-Andrea-Frank

Yahrzeit Candles appear this way:Yahrzeit Tin Candle and Holder Yahrzeit Glass Beeswax Candle Yahrzeit Silver Candle Holder Electric Traveling Yahrzeit Candle

Here Are Your Options To When You Feel You Need Others Around You For Support:

  • Check with your local temple or synagogue for daily minyan (10). Daily minyan offers you to attend on the actual Yahrzeit date.
  • If not daily minyan, then the closest Shabbat service to the Yahrzeit. Shabbat services are open to all. No one will be turned away.
  • If you find it uncomfortable to attend a temple or synagogue and happen to be blessed with many family members and or friends nearby, gather them together.
    Even though this is a sad time, and having others visiting might be difficult, remember you are also honoring your family member. You might be surprised to learn that your family members and friends would be more than willing to participate.  Add a little cake, fruit, coffee and some wonderful memories might surface reminding you just how special this person was to all.  If reciting the Kaddish prayer is too difficult for you, find a specific prayer (see below), a poem that you can recite after lighting the Yahrzeit memorial candle.memory candle
    A Prayer
    The light of life is a finite flame.
    Like the Sabbath candles, life is kindled.
    It burns, it glows, it radiates warmth and beauty,
    but then it fades and is no more. Yet we must not despair.
    We are more than a memory vanishing in the darkness. With our lives we give life.
    Something of us can never die; we move in the eternal cycle of darkness and death, of light and life.
    The memorial light we now kindle is a sign of this truth.
    As it burns pure and bright, so may the memory of our dearly beloved brighten and purify our lives.  Amen

  • Suggested Reading by Rabbi Frank – God Whispers teaches readers of all faiths and all backgrounds that the joy and pain in our lives have meaning and purpose.
    Karyn D. Kedar is widely recognized as an inspiring spiritual leader who guides people in their spiritual and personal growth.

Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times coauthor, Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul
“Insightful, honest, frank … will comfort anyone, from any spiritual background, who is struggling with the issue of forgiveness and will guide them toward healing.”

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