What Is The Kaddish Prayer
And How And Who Says It?

The Kaddish prayer is recited several times during the prayers, but the more well-known Kaddish is the Mourner's Kaddish that's recited by the mourner.  Many Jews who don't frequent the synagogue try to do so the year following a parent's demise in order to honor their memory.  


What Is The Kaddish?  

 The Kaddish is recited in the Aramaic language that is partially mentioned in the Talmud.  The text contains praise and glorification to the Creator of the universe.  Actually there are different versions of the Kaddish that are recited for different reasons and occasions.  


The Kaddish starts with the words, May the name of the Creator of the universe be glorified and sanctified.  These words express the belief in G‑d even in difficult moments of loss and separation.  The concluding words are a prayer that peace shall come to the land..."He makes peace in the higher realms.  He will make peace for us and for all of Israel.  And we should say, amen..." 


Who Recites the Kaddish And When

The mourner's Kaddish is recited by orphans who have lost a father or mother and is reciting during the year after their demise (refer later for more details).  Kaddish can also be said after the demise of a brother, sister or wife.  

If a person died and he has no children or relatives to say Kaddish on his behalf, the custom is to appoint someone who will sa the Kaddish for the family.  Yeshivas and organizations that perform kind acts offer a service of reciting the Kaddish in exchange for a token amount of money that is donated to charity. 

Traditionally, the reciting of the Kaddish causes the soul of the departed to rise to a higher spiritual level in the world of truth.  The Talmud teaches us that the souls of the wicked are judged for 12 months, and as such the custom is not to recite the Kaddish for a full year, thereby avoiding the impression that the father or mother were judged in purgatory for 12 months.

Many, including Chabad, stop reciting the Kaddish after 11 months.  The custom of the Sephardic community is to stop saying Kaddish for 1 week.     

After the first year, one recite's the Kaddish on the same date in the following years according to the Hebrew calendar.  


How Does One Say The Kaddish 

It's recommended to come to the synagogue before the prayers begin in order to meet the gabbai and learn the local customs, times of prayers and the like.  In principle, the Kaddish prayer is recited by the mourners in unison with the congregation answering "amen" and "amen; may His great name be blessed..."  At the end of the Kaddish, before saying the words, "...He makes peace in the upper realms...", one takes 3 steps back.  


Is The Recital Of The Kaddish Necessary
During The Entire Year Of Mourning Or Part Of It?