The Mys­tery of the Kad­dish: Its Pro­found Influ­ence on Judaism

Leon Char­ney
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By – March 30, 2012

Kad­dish, the Jew­ish prayer recit­ed for the dead, is the quin­tes­sen­tial expres­sion of mourn­ing in Jew­ish tra­di­tion. It is recit­ed for eleven months after the death of a par­ent and then every year on the yahrzeit, the anniver­sary of the death. 

In The Mys­tery of the Kad­dish: Its Pro­found Influ­ence on Judaism, author Leon Char­ney unveils the his­to­ry of this uni­ver­sal prayer. The verb l’kadesh means to sanc­ti­fy or to make holy and the Kad­dish itself does not ever con­tain the word death” in any text. Rather, the prayer exalts and glo­ri­fies God and God’s role in the cre­ation of man. 

Char­ney traces the his­to­ry of the Kad­dish from the Bible to the Cru­sades to the Mid­dle Ages through the Holo­caust to its recita­tion in our mod­ern syn­a­gogues. Char­ney brings life and mean­ing to the Kad­dish by explain­ing how it has been adapt­ed through time to meet the needs of chang­ing Jew­ish cul­tures and com­mu­ni­ties around the world. 

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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