Kaddish is a 13th century, Aramaic prayer said during every traditional prayer service. Kaddish means ‘sanctification’ in Aramaic and it is related to the Hebrew word kadosh, which means ‘holy.’
Of the five variations of the Kaddish; the best known is the Mourner’s Kaddish. The prayer never mentions death or dying, but instead proclaims the greatness of God. By reciting it, mourners show that even as their faith is being tested by their loss, they are affirming God’s greatness.
Traditionally, the prayer is said only when there is a minyan, a quorum of 10 Jews. So that one can feel a part of the community even while grieving. The mourner must remain part of the community even as his or her instinct might be to withdraw.
A person mourning a parent says Kaddish 11 months. Historically, Kaddish was said for only 30 days for a child, spouse or sibling; many now say Kaddish for 11 months when in mourning for any family member. Kaddish is also said each year on the anniversary of the death (Yahrzeit) and at Yizkor.
The rhythmic cadences of Kaddish are soothing to us both in mourning and over the years as we say it at Yahrzeit and at Yizkor to remember our loved ones. We say the prayer as a community, because none of us is alone in mourning.
Kaddish reads as follows:
Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba b’alma di v’ra chir’utei; v’yamlich malchutei b’hayeichon u-v’yomeichon, uv’hayei d’chol beit yisrael, ba-agala u-vi-z’man kariv, v’imru amen.
Y’hei sh’mei raba m’varach l’alam u-l’almei almaya.
Yitbarach v’yishtabah, v’yitpa’ar v’yitromam, v’yitnasei v’yit-hadar, v’yit’aleh v’yit’halal sh’mei d’kudsha, b’rich hu, l’ela min kol birchata v’shirata, tushb’hata v’nehemata, da-amiran b’alma, v’imru amen.
Y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya, v’hayim, aleinu v’al koi yisrael, v’imru amen.
Oseh shalom bi-m’romav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael, v’imru amen.
Magnified and sanctified is the great name of God throughout the world, which was created according to Divine will. May the rule of peace be established speedily in our time, unto us and unto the entire household of Israel. And let us say: Amen.
May God’s great name be praised throughout all eternity. Glorified and celebrated, lauded and praised, acclaimed and honored, extolled and exalted ever be the name of thy Holy One, far beyond all song and psalm, beyond all hymns of glory which mortals can offer. And let us say: Amen.
May there be abundant peace from heaven, with life’s goodness for us and for all thy people Israel. And let us say: Amen.
May the One who brings peace to the universe bring peace to us and to all the people Israel. And let us say: Amen.