Prayers & Meditations
Readers and Mourners
Magnified and sanctified be the great name of God throughout the world which He hath created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom during the days of your life and during the life of all the house of Israel, speedily, yea, soon; and say ye, Amen.
May His great name be blessed for ever and ever.
Reader and Mourners
Exalted and honored by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory transcends, yea, is beyond all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which are uttered In the world; and say ye, Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen. May He who establisheth peace in the heavens, grant peace unto us and unto all Israel; and say ye, Amen.
EL MALEY RACHAMIM
O God, full of compassion, Thou who dwellest on high! Grant perfect rest beneath the sheltering wings of Thy presence, among the holy and pure who shine as the brightness of the firmament unto the soul of who has gone unto eternity. Lord of mercy, bring him (her) under the cover of Thy wings, and let his (her) soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life. Be thou his (her) possession, and may his (her) repose be peace, Amen.
Vidui – Confession before Death
My God and God of all who have gone before me, Author of life and death, I turn to You in trust. Although I pray for life and health, I know that I am mortal. If my life must soon come to an end, let me die, I pray, at peace.
If only my hands were clean and my heart pure! I confess that I have committed sins and left much undone, yet I know also the good that I did or tried to do. May my acts of goodness give meaning to my life, and may my errors be forgiven.
Protector of the bereaved and the helpless, watch over my loved ones. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; redeem it, O God of mercy and truth.
A Sacred Pilgrimage
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination
But life is a journey,
A going — a growing
From stage to stage.
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age.
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
And then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength
Or strength to weakness —
And, often back again.
From health to sickness
And back we pray, to health again.
From offense to forgiveness,
From loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude,
From pain to compassion,
And grief to understanding —
From fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat —
Until, looking backward or ahead,
We see that victory lies
Not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey,
stage by stage
A sacred pilgrimage.
- Alvin Fine
We Remember Them
At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.
-Sylvan Kamens & Rabbi Jack Riemer
O Shepherd of Israel, Who dost neither slumber nor sleep, we are the people of Thy pasture and the sheep of Thy hand. Enfold us safely in Thy love. And if in our grief and loneliness and moments of desolation, we should stray from following Thee, O leave us not, faithful Shepherd, but draw us near unto Thee.
As we face the great mystery of death which called away this our dear friend from our earthly abode, we feel our frailty, our weakness. We do not understand the brevity of life: we cannot understand why such pain and anguish of heart and mind are visited upon those we love.
Make us not despair, Eternal Father; we are called by Thy Name, we are Thine, Thou hast set thoughts of Thee in our hearts, though we; creatures of flesh and blood, can but dimly apprehend Thy purposes. Teach us not to neglect the task of today because we cannot see its eternal effect. O teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom; to lengthen our brief life by intensity of living; to fill swift hours with worthy deeds.
Besides the still waters, through the green pastures, and in the valley where dark shadows lie, be Thou our strength and shield, and may we find Thy rod and Thy staff a stay and comfort to us in the days that lie ahead. Amen.
Protect me, Eternal One, for I seek refuge in You.
I say to God: “You are Adonai, there is none beyond You."
Adonai is my allotted share and portion.
I bless Adonai who has guided me; my conscience admonishes me at night.
I am ever mindful of the Divine Presence who is at my right hand; I shall never be shaken.
So my heart rejoices; my whole being exults, and my body rests secure.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
O God, You have been our refuge in every generation.
Before the mountains came into being, before You brought forth the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity You are God.
You return us to dust; Your decree: “Return, you mortals!”
For in Your sight a thousand years are as yesterday when it has passed, as a watch n the night.
You engulf us in sleep; we are like grass that renews itself; at daybreak it flourishes anew; at dusk it withers and dries up. The span of our life is threescore years and ten, or, given strength, fourscore years; But the best of those years have trouble and sorrow.
They pass by speedily, and we are in darkness.
Teach us, therefore, so to number our days that we may attain a heart of wisdom, Turn to us, O God!
Show mercy to Your servants.
Satisfy us at daybreak wit Your steadfast love That we may sing for joy all our days.
Let Your deeds be seen by Your servants, Your glory by their children.
May Your favor, O God, be upon us.
Establish the work of our hands that it may long endure.
You Who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, Who abides in the shadow of the Omnipotent,
I say [to you] of the Lord Who is my refuge and my stronghold, my G-d in Whom I trust,
that He will save you from the ensnaring trap, from the destructive pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions and you will find refuge under His wings; His truth is a shield and an armor.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
the pestilence that prowls in the darkness, nor the destruction that ravages at noon.
A thousand may fall at your [left] side, and ten thousand at your right, but it shall not reach you.
You need only look with your eyes, and you will see the retribution of the wicked.
Because you [have said,] "The Lord is my shelter," and you have made the Most High your haven,
no evil will befall you, no plague will come near your tent.
For He will instruct His angels in your behalf, to guard you in all your ways.
They will carry you in their hands, lest you hurt your foot on a rock.
You will tread upon the lion and the viper; you will trample upon the young lion and the serpent.
Because he desires Me, I will deliver him; I will fortify him for he knows My Name.
When he calls on Me, I will answer him; I am with him in distress, I will deliver him and honor him.
I will satisfy him with long life, and show him My deliverance.
I lift my eyes to the mountains; What is the source of my help?
My help comes from Adonai, Maker of heaven and earth.
God will not let your foot give way; your Protector will not slumber.
See, the Protector of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!
God is your Guardian, God is your protection at your right hand.
The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
God will guard you from all harm God will guard your soul, your going and coming, now and forever.
El Moley Rachamim
On behalf of a man:
God, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence's wings, within the range of the holy, pure and glorious, whose shining resemble the sky's, to the soul of (Hebrew name of deceased) son of (Hebrew name of his father) for a charity was given to the memory of his soul. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say: Amen.
On behalf of a woman:
God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence , amongst the holy, pure and glorious who shine like the sky, to the soul of (Hebrew name of deceased) daughter of (Hebrew name of her father), for whom prayer was offered in the memory of her soul. Therefore, the Merciful One will protect her soul forever, and will merge her soul with eternal life. The Everlasting is her heritage, and she shall rest peacefully at her lying place, and let us say: Amen.
Kindling the Shiva Candle
(To be lit when one returns home following the funeral.)
Almighty God, Master of Mercy, the One who heals broken hearts, I cry out to You. My heart aches with the pain of my loss. I light this candle to bring light and Your presence back into my home, a home that seems so devoid of light.
Master of Mercy, I know that the soul is eternal and can never be extinguished. The soul of my __________ survives because it is stronger than death. The goodness, the righteous deeds, the wisdom that my _________ gave to me will always remain within me. It will have a permanent imprint upon my soul that can never be erased. And it will continue to guide me wherever I go.
There are people who think that heaven is a place far-off, but perhaps heaven is much closer than I once thought; heaven is in my heart and my memory of ________. I pray that ________ is silently watching over me and sheltering me and will guide my steps in this world. I believe that, just as You are surrounding me, so you are surrounded by all my loved ones who have preceded __________ into the Olum Haba, the World which follows this earthly life.
O, Compassionate One, bless me and my family and inspire us with Your goodness and righteousness in the days to come. Shatter not my faith in You and never allow me to forget the memories of my dear ___________. Grant me the courage to endure what cannot be escaped and help me to go on without bitterness and despair. May ___________ live forever in my heart. And shelter my beloved under the wings of Your divine presence, for now into eternity. AMEN.
Meditation on the Shiva Candle
So you're here again
I knew we couldn't leave you behind
Not with everyone gathering here
And talking about you
And all the good times we had.
Please excuse their laughter
It's their gift to you
As they celebrate your life.
But now, we're alone
(I can't believe I've found a quiet corner)
Just to light a light
To keep your spirit warm
Within this room, this home
And within my heart.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, יוֹצֵר אוֹר
וּבוֹרֵא חֹֽשֶךְ, עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא אֶת הַכֹּל
Barukh atah Adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, yotzeir or u'vorei hoshekh,
oseh shalom u'vorei et ha-kol.
We bless and praise You, our Eternal God, ruler of time and space, because You form light and create darkness; You establish peace and create all things.
Light the candle
אוֹר חָדָשׁ עַל צִיּוֹן תָּאִיר וְנִזְכֶּה כֻלָּֽנוּ מְהֵרָה לְאוֹרוֹ
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ יוֹצֵר הַמְּאוֹרוֹת
Or hadash al tziyon ta'ir, v'nizkeh khulanu m'heirah l'oro.
Barukh atah Adonai, yotzeir ha-m'orot.
May a new light shine over Zion and soon may we all be worthy to bask in its glow. Be blessed and praised, Eternal One, creator of all the lights. Amen!
At the End of Mourning
Prayers on Unveiling a Monument
We now fondly dedicate this monument (plaque) to the blessed memory of (name) realizing that his (her) remains lie not only in this plot of ground but in every heart his (her) life did touch.
We are grateful for the years we were privileged to share with him (her) - years when he (she) brought us so many pleasures and taught us so very much by example.
And even though he (she) has left our midst, we know he (she) will never leave our hearts where his (her) memory will endure as a blessing forever.
At a Father’s Grave
Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell upon Thy holy mountain? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart; That hath no slander upon his tongue, nor doeth evil to his fellow nor taketh on a reproach against his neighbor . . . He that doeth these things shall never be moved. - Psalm 15
The memory of your life, dear father, rises before me this solemn moment as I stand before your grave and recall all the years of unselfish devotion, kindness, love and encouragement which you have shown me during your life. I recall all the sacrifices you made for my welfare, and the many comforts with which you provided me. You rejoiced in my achievements, you guided me in my perplexities, and strengthened me in my trials and disappointments. The passing of time will never diminish the blessed memories of your life.
I can pay you the tribute which you so richly deserve, by cherishing the ideals and principles you have taught me, by continuing the noble work you have left unfinished, by loyally upholding the heritage of Israel which you have transmitted unto me, and by serving my people and all who need me. Though you are gone from my physical presence, the bond of love which unites us can never be severed.
May God grant that my father's memory ever inspire me, and may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
At a Mother’s Grave
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in things too great, or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, my soul is with me like a weaned child. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and for ever. - Psalm 131
Though we are separated, dear mother, at this solemn moment when I stand before your grave, I call to mind the love and solicitude with which you tended and watched over my childhood, ever mindful of my welfare, and ever anxious for my happiness. I feel the closeness of your spirit, mother dear, and my heart is filled with tender emotion as I recollect the many sacrifices you made to ennoble my heart and instruct my mind. I am grateful for your every blessing, your kindly deeds, your understanding heart, your sacrificial devotion and your warm love so freely given. What I achieved is because of your influence, and what I am, I have become through you. Indeed, the wisdom that you imparted unto me shall ever remain with me.
If at times, I have failed in showing you the love and appreciation which you so worthily deserved; if I have been thoughtless and ungrateful; I ask to be forgiven. In tribute to your beautiful memory, I implore your inspiration to noble and intelligent living as I cherish the recollections of your lifetime.
I pray, O God, that the soul of my dear mother be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
At the Grave of a Husband
O God, behold and see the sorrow of my heart. Widowed and bereft I mourn the loss of the dear companion of my heart. Thou sleep beneath this tomb, dear husband, and while thou cannot hear me, neither can thou see my tears. My existence is now a void, joy and happiness have fled with thee, and I must bear the burden of life alone, for thy hand can no longer protect me, nor my heart repose on thine. All is cold and sorrow, and I come to pour out my grief at thy grave.
May God support me in this heavy trial, may He in mercy pardon the words of bitterness which have escaped from my widowed heart. O God, protect my bereaved children, deprived of their earthly father's care. Heavenly Father, extend thy omnipotent protection, and inspire them with a love of duty and fidelity to our faith, and veneration for their father's memory.
I pray, O Lord, that the precious memories of our happy years together, may ever be an incentive to noble and sanctified living. May my endeavors to practice what is good atone for my errors, and be accepted in order to assume the salvation of my soul.
Father of all, grant that the soul of my beloved husband be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
At the Grave of a Wife
With a sorrowing heart, O beloved wife, I fondly recall your love and companionship, your tenderness and devotion and the many comforts and joys you brought into my life. As I stand now before your grave, my heart cries out for the gentle touch of your hand and your sweet compassion. Never will I forget the hardships and the pleasures, trials and triumphs, joys and sorrows, we shared together. You helped dispel my fear and in time of need encouraged me and stood by my side. I pray that our children may ever be inspired by your precious memory. May they always remember, and strive to imitate thy gentleness, piety and virtue.
O God, grant unto her for whom I mourn, all the joys of eternity, grant that her soul may watch as a guardian angel over my bereaved children, remove every evil influence from them, and lead them in the way of righteousness, so that we may one day be all deemed worthy of being numbered among the blessed.
O heavenly Father, grant that the soul of my beloved wife be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
At the Grave of a Child
Almighty Father, as I stand at the grave of my beloved child, I tenderly recall the joys that he (she) gave me during his (her) lifetime. How I delighted in his (her) physical and mental growth. How I planned for his (her) future. Though few and brief were the years wherein I rejoiced with my beloved child, many indeed were the blessings he (she) brought into our home. The passage of years will never fill the void in my heart, nor can time soften the pain of bereavement. Though he (she) is no longer in our midst, his (her) memory shall forever be enshrined in my heart.
O merciful God, Giver of life, Thou hast recalled what is Thine own, and hast taken him (her) into Thy loving care and keeping. Though my heart still grieves, may I, who have known the joys of parenthood, bring love and cheer into the lives of others. I pray that the soul of my dearly beloved child be bound up in the bond of eternal life, together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
At the Grave of a Sibling
O merciful God, standing here at the grave of my dear brother (sister), I fondly recollect the happy years we spent together, sharing the love and traditions of our home and family. Alas! death claimed thee too soon, and removed thee too early from those who loved thee. Though Thou hast called him (her) back, O God, I shall always hold sacred memories of his (her) kindness and sincerity, love and devotion. O Lord, grant that the recollections of his (her) life provide an incentive to righteous living. I place my trust in Thee who are the source of all life and my strength in time of sorrow. Though a link has been severed from our family chain, help me, O God, to be more closely united with those dear ones who remain. May the soul of my beloved brother (sister) be bound up in the bond of eternal life together with the souls of all the righteous that are in Thy keeping. Amen.
Yizkor in Memory of a Father
Yizkor in Memory of a Mother
Yizkor in Memory of a Daughter
Yizkor in Memory of a Son
Yizkor in Memory of a Husband
Yizkor in Memory of a Wife
Yizkor in Memory of a Sibling
Yizkor in Memory the Martyrs
May the Lord remember
the souls of the holy and pure ones
who were killed, murdered, slaughtered, burned, drowned, and strangled
for the sanctification of the Name,
because, without making a vow, I shall give to charity on their behalf.
As reward for this,
may their souls be bound in the Bond of Life,
together with the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah;
and together with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden.
Our God and God of our fathers, may the memories of those whom we lovingly recall as we say Yizkor this day influence our lives for good and direct our thoughts away from the vain and fleeting toward that which is eternal. Teach us to emulate the virtues of our dear ones so that we too may be inspired to devote ourselves to the Torah, to Israel and to Thee, the source of all our aspirations. Thus shall the historic chain of Judaism remain unbroken, our departed mothers and fathers and all our loved ones be united with us. They live in us, in our hopes and so shall their influence continue in our children. In Thee, O Lord, they and we are one.
‘When I stray far from Thee, O God, my life is as death; but when I cleave unto Thee, even in death I have life.’ With Thee are the souls of the living and the dead. Teach us to live wisely and unselfishly, in truth and understanding, in love and peace, so that those who come after us may likewise remember us for good, as we this day affectionately remember them who were unto us a blessing. Amen.
Meditations at the graves of our Dearly Departed
Peace be to thy spirit dear one. Well do I know, that safely thou dwellest under the shadow of God. And yet, to think that thou no more art with me on earth, grieves the heart and saddens the thought.
I have come to the place where the earthly part of thee has been laid to rest and at thy grave I pray unto Him, who has revealed Himself to us as a Father, that he grant me the strength and the will to emulate the good example set by thee, that I may practice the good thou hast taught, and lead a pure and virtuous life, so that, when my time shall come to enter eternity my soul may be found worthy of salvation.
May thy love and faithfulness that guarded and guided me, be forever written upon my heart and set us as a memorial before my eyes, that I may ever find grace and favor in the eyes of God and man.
The glory of God be upon thee, and His peace surround thee. Amen.