CARR 191


Contemporary American Reform Responsa

128. Moving Date of


QUESTION: A family will be together approximately two

weeks before the yahrzeit for their father. They would, therefore, like to move the

yahrzeit and commemorate it two weeks early during this year. Is that permissible? (D. F.,

Pittsburgh, PA)ANSWER: The yahrzeit has become an honored and

established custom among Jews throughout the world. Its historic development and practices

have been dealt with elsewhere (W. Jacob, American Reform Responsa, #127). There

has been discussion about commemorating it on the day of death or burial, and tradition decided

that the day of death should be used, except in the first year. If that date is not known, then a

date may be arbitrarily set. However, the same date should be used in subsequent years

(Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayim 568.8; Maharil Responsa #7). A fair

amount of custom and halakhah have developed around the commemoration of

yahrzeit. All of it indicates that once the date has been fixed, it should not be arbitrarily

moved. The family in this instance should continue to commemorate the yahrzeit on the

appropriate date. There is, however, no reason for not doing something a few weeks earlier when

the family happens to be together. In fact, we would encourage that as the mobility of the present

day American Jewish community makes such family gatherings rare. The family should visit the

grave of their beloved father and attend a synagogue service together, as they normally would

on the yahrzeit; this should be done either on any day they are together or on a

shabbat when they are in the city. In this way, they will honor the memory of their father

as a family, but also not disturb the regular commemoration of yahrzeit from year to

year.March 1984

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.