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On what holidays should a Yahrtzeit (memorial) candle be lit?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg and Mrs. Dinka Kumer


Library » Holidays » General Information » Holiday Candles | Subscribe | What is RSS?



Which are the holidays when I am supposed to light a yahrtzeit candle?


According to tradition, the Yahrtzeit candle should be lit for the following holidays:

Yom Kippur

Shmini Atzeret

The last day of Passover

The second day of Shavuot1

The candle is lit after nightfall the night before Yizkor is recited. If the day that Yizkor is being said falls on Shabbat (or on Yom Kippur) the candle is lit before sunset on the previous afternoon.

On Yom Tov we may only light fire from a pre existing fire. Therefore, when lighting a Yahrtzeit candle on Yom Tov, it must be lit from a pre-existing flame.

Ed. note: Please also read "When is Yizkor recited?" and also "When is a Yahrtzeit (memorial) candle lit?"


  • 1. In Israel the candle is lit on Shavuot which is a one day holiday.


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Holidays » General Information » Holiday Information
Life Cycle » Death » Yahrtzeit

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.
Yom Tov
Jewish Holiday.
Prayers for the souls of departed relatives, recited during the holiday prayer services.
The (Jewish calendar) anniversary of a person's death.