The Year-Long Mourning Period

In Yiddish, yahrzeit (also spelled “yahrtzeit”) means "a year's time" or “time of one year.” The word is commonly used in the Jewish faith when referring to the anniversary of the death of a loved one according to the Hebrew calendar. The yahrzeit, annual commemoration, is one of the most meaningful ways in which relatives and friends can honor their loved one.

Jewish law stipulates that the deaths of parents, siblings, spouses and children be honored through a series of traditional prayers and services. The recitation of the Kaddish is considered the primary obligation of mourners on the yahrzeit. The Halacha (the collective body of religious laws for Jews) directs mourners to recite the mourner's version of the Kaddish prayer three times, usually on the eve of the anniversary of the loved one's death and the morning and afternoon of the anniversary. Maariv is recited during evening services; Shacharit during morning services; and Mincha during afternoon services.
 
Jewish tradition also calls for the lighting of a special candle, a yahrzeit candle, which burns for 24 hours when the yahrzeit begins. The lighting of the yahrzeit candle allows family members and friends to remember and honor their loved one.