The Meaning of Kaddish

Saying Kaddish for a deceased loved one is an ancient Jewish tradition. Kaddish is an act of loving-kindness towards the departed’s soul, enabling that soul to ascend to the Higher realms.

Usually a son or close relative says the Kaddish prayer for a deceased parent or sibling. (It is also customary for a father to say kaddish for a departed child, G-d forbid,  if there is no sibling capable of reciting it.)

Kaddish is to be recited in the company of a minyan (congregation of at least ten Jewish men) during the three daily prayers (Shacharit-morning, Mincha-afternoon and Arvit-evening), from the time of the burial and continuing for the next 11 months. Additionally. the Kaddish is also recited every year on the anniversary of the death called the Yahrzeit.

It is not always possible for the mourner, who sincerely wants to honor their loved one, to fulfill their obligation of personally saying the Kaddish prayer. Therefore, it is permissible and recommended that the mourner engage someone to fulfill the obligation in their stead. (Even those who intend to take on the responsibility of personally saying the Yahrzeit prayer three times a day, often employ an additional person to recite it as a back-up insurance just in case they are unable to make it to synagogue.)

Translation of Kaddish Prayer in English

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us

and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.