A memorial service, called Yizkor - to “remember", is recited as part of the prayer service four times during the year to implore G‑d to remember the souls of our relatives that have passed on. This is based on the Jewish belief in the eternity of the soul. Although a soul can no longer do good deeds after death, it can gain merit through the charity and good deeds, as well as prayer of the living. When reciting Yiskor we renew and strengthen the connection between us and our relatives.
WHO recites YISKOR?
Every person who has a lost a parent (or other loved one - sibling).
WHEN do we recite YISKOR in SYNAGOGUE?
4 times a year.
HOW do we say YISKOR?
With your mouth and with your mind and with your heart. The central part of Yizkor is a single paragraph beginning Yizkor el-ohim (may G‑d remember). Prayer books have individualized paragraphs to be recited for a deceased mother, father, male relative (including husband, son, brother, uncle and grandfather), female relative (including wife, daughter, sister, aunt and grandmother), extended family and martyrs. The first four of these paragraphs have a space in which to mention the name of the deceased. They all follow the same pattern: the prayers askG‑dto remember the soul of the deceased because the one reciting it pledges to give charity on the deceased's behalf. As a reward for this charity, the person asks that the deceased's soul be bound in the "Bond of Life" together with the souls of the forefathers and mothers and the other righteous people in the Garden of Eden. The pledge to charity is included because of the belief that an act of charity will contribute to redeeming a soul, and the prayer essentially asks G‑d to take note of the charity and let it be a merit for the soul of the relative.
An additional prayer will be recited as a commemoration to those who perished in the Holocaust and prayer for the souls of all Jewish Martyrs.
LIGHTING a CANDLE
Surely a candle, like the "Yahrtzeit" candle, should be lit before the holiday begins, one which will last 24 hours. This candle is also called a "Ner Neshamah," a Lamp of the Soul, based on the verse in "Mishlei"/Proverbs (20:27) "The Soul, or Conscience, of Man is a Lamp of G‑d, searching out all the hidden recesses of the Person," alluding to the fact that the soul of the departed will also be "standing before G‑d" for Atonement.
AN interesting difference in CUSTOM
There is an interesting difference in practice between the Ashekenazicand the SefardicCommunities:
When referring to the deceased, the custom of the Ashkenazic community is to mention the name of the deceased as the son of the father (for example: "Moshe ben Maimon;" Moshe, the son of his father, Maimon) or the daughter of the father (for example: "Miriam bat Amram;" Miriam, the daughter of her father, Amram.)
In doing so, this is the same way in which a person is called up to the Torah, which is called an "aliyah," an ascent, which we wish both for ourselves and, on this special and holy day, for our departed loved ones.
When referring to the deceased, the custom of the Sefardic community is to mention the name of the deceased as the son of the mother (for example: "Yaakov ben Rivkah;" Yaakov, the son of his mother, Rivkah) or the daughter of the mother (for example: "Miriam bat Yocheved;" Miriam, the daughter of her mother, Yocheved.)
This is the way a person is referred to when ill, and in need of healing from Hashem. In this "Yizkor" or "E-l Malei Rachamim" Prayer, it is healing in terms of Atonement that we seek for our departed loved ones.
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May we Merit the ressurection of all our beloved departed...