The Significance of Yizkor
Adapted from Mishkan HaNefesh
The traditional Yizkor prayer asks God to remember the souls of our loved ones and to shelter them for eternity. It is a time to thank God for the lives of our loved ones who are no longer with us, to pay homage to those who made the world a better place because they lived in it, and to strengthen the bonds between the here and the hereafter in our hearts and minds.
The Yizkor service on Yom Kippur has significance beyond the prayer itself. This is a moment set apart by solitary reflection; an opportunity to fulfill a sacred obligation; and it is a time to feel the emotional closeness of community.
The Yizkor service has four parts:
- A series of readings and prayers that set the mood for the solemn service;
- Paragraphs that individuals read silently recalling their loved ones;
- The memorial prayer for the deceased, and
- A special prayer that is recited by the congregation as a memorial for all Jewish martyrs.