New Booklet will Encourage Female Mourners to say Kaddish
Date Uploaded: 
Thursday 21st January 2016

Following her own experience in saying Kaddish for her father, United Synagogue Trustee and Co-Chair of US Women, Jacqui Zinkin has spearheaded the production of a new Kaddish booklet to help female mourners. The booklet, produced with the support of the Chief Rabbi and US Living & Learning, aims to provide encouragement and information for any woman who feels they want to say Kaddish for a loved one.

In her letter to all US Rabbis and Rebbetzens Jacqui Zinkin said: “10 years ago my father passed away. Having read an article written by Dayan Binstock and with the support of my own US Rabbi, I began to say Kaddish myself. I found that saying Kaddish provided a structure to my mourning and together with additional learning and chesed projects I began to feel my way through the initial loss. The grieving process is of course different for everyone and there may well be women who do not wish to say Kaddish and they should feel no obligation to do so. But, for those who feel like me, it can help with mourning the loss of a loved one.”

Jewish law and tradition provides a framework for mourning with a number of different ways to memorialise a loved one who has passed away. Kaddish is a prayer which mourners recite at a funeral, during the shiva, daily during the period of mourning and on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. Saying Kaddish, which is optional rather than obligatory for women, is one of these ways.  For many people, saying Kaddish helps them during a very difficult time in their lives. Should a woman choose to say Kaddish, this important new booklet provides helpful information.

The booklet has been sent out to all US communities as well as Rabbis, Rebbetzens, the Burial Office and cemeteries. Commenting on the publication, Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “While there are many ways to honour the memory of a loved one, it is important that women who would like to say Kaddish should feel comfortable and supported in doing so. It is my hope that this guide will demystify the process of saying Kaddish, sorting the myths from the facts and will make a real difference to the grieving process for women in our community.”

Chair of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue, Rabbi Baruch Davis, said:  Judaism provides a framework in which we remember our loved ones and sanctify their memory. Recently, The US produced a beautiful and meaningful shiva book, which explained the Jewish approach to death and bereavement. Now, we are really pleased to see the production of the US Women's Kaddish booklet, which sets out to clarify the role of women in saying Kaddish. We sincerely hope that all men and women who recite Kaddish for their loved ones will find it a meaningful experience and we shall do our utmost to see that this is so.”

Ilana Epstein from US Living & Learning added: "An overriding aim of our work is to encourage both men and women to find the genuine spirituality and relevance that traditional orthodox observance brings. We hope this document helps those women who sadly need to memorialise a loved one."

The booklet also gives other suggestions for ways in which mourners can memorialise a loved one who has passed away including: learning Torah in the name of their loved one; helping others; praying (including saying Tehillim/Psalms); giving a Dvar Torah (short explanation of a Jewish idea or text) in shul, at home or amongst friends; giving Tzedaka (charity) in the name of a loved one. It stresses that these are not just alternatives to saying Kaddish, they are equally meaningful in their own right from a spiritual and halachic perspective.

For an e-copy of the booklet visit www.theus.org.uk/kaddishguideforwomen or for a printed copy email jhammell@theus.org.uk