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.