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Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 11. 2nd ed. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p695-698.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 Keter Publishing House Ltd.
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KADDISH (Aram. קַדִּישׁ; "holy"), a doxology, most of it in Aramaic, recited with congregational responses at the close of individual sections of the public service and at the conclusion of the service itself. There are four main types of Kaddish:

(a) THE WHOLE (OR COMPLETE) KADDISH, the text of which is as follows:

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire house of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

The congregational response, which is repeated by the *sheli'aḥ ẓibbur is

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say Amen.

May the prayers and supplications of the whole house of Israel be accepted by their Father in heaven; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His high places, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say Amen.

It is recited by the sheli'aḥ ẓibbur after each *Amidah (virtually concluding the whole service), except in the morning service when it comes after the prayer U-Va le-Ẓiyyon.

(b) THE "HALF" KADDISH consists of the above text with the exception of the concluding passage, from "May the prayers and supplications …" until the end of the prayer. It is also recited by the sheli'aḥ ẓibbur and functions as a link between the sections of each service. In the morning service, the "Half " Kaddish is recited after the psalms (*Pesukei de-Zimra ), the Amidah (or the *Taḥanun , when that is said), and the Reading of the Law. In the afternoon service, it is recited before the Amidah; in the evening service before Ve-Hu Raḥum (when the special psalms before it are recited) and before the Amidah. It is also recited before the *Musaf service.

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(c) THE KADDISH DE-RABBANAN ("the scholars' Kaddish") consists of the whole Kaddish with "May the prayers and supplications …," however, replaced by, "[We pray] for Israel, for our teachers and their disciples and the disciples of their disciples, and for all who study the Torah, here and everywhere. May they have abundant peace, loving-kindness, ample sustenance and salvation from their Father Who is in heaven; and say, Amen." The prayer then continues with the passage "May there be abundant peace from Heaven …" It is recited by mourners after communal study and in the synagogue, particularly after the reading of *Ba-Meh Madlikin (Shab. 2) on Friday nights, after the early morning service, and after *Ein Ke-Elohenu .

(d) THE MOURNERS' KADDISH contains the full text of the whole Kaddish with the exception of the line "May the prayers and supplications …" It is recited by the close relatives of the deceased (see: *Mourning ) after the *Aleinu , at the end of each service, and may be repeated after the reading of additional psalms.

All four forms of the Kaddish are recited standing, facing Jerusalem. In some communities, the whole congregation stands, in others only the mourners. If one stands at the beginning of the Kaddish, however, one should not sit down before the response "May His great name be blessed …" When the Kaddish is recited at the burial service, an addition, stressing the eschatological aspect of the Kaddish, is made to the opening paragraph. It is also added to the Kaddish recited at the celebration marking the conclusion of the study of a Talmud tractate (Siyyum).

The Kaddish is characterized by an abundance of praise and glorification of God and an expression of hope for the speedy establishment of His kingdom on earth. The brief reference to the latter ("May He establish His kingdom") in the usual Ashkenazi version is expanded by the Sephardim with ve-Yaẓmaḥ purkaneih ve-karev meshiḥeih ("May He make His salvation closer and bring His Messiah near"). The congregational response "May His great name be blessed for ever and to all eternity" is the kernel of the prayer (Sifre to Deut. 32:3). The verse is akin to Daniel 2:20 (in Aramaic), to Job 1:21, and to Psalm 113:2 (in Hebrew), and to the eulogy "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever," which was recited in the Temple (Yoma 3:8). According to R. Joshua b. Levi, "joining loudly and in unison in [this] congregational response …" has the power of influencing the heavenly decree in one's favor (Shab. 119b; cf. Mid. Prov. 10).

The simple form in which the eschatological pleas are phrased and the lack of allusion to the destruction of the Temple indicate the antiquity of the Kaddish prayer. The opening phrase, "Magnified and sanctified be His great name in the world …" (whose origin is Ezek. 38:23), shows affinities to the "Lord's Prayer" (Matt. 6:9–13); similar phrases were apparently used in a variety of public and private prayers (e.g., that of thanksgiving for rain, cited in TJ, Ta'an. 1:3, 64b). The Kaddish prayer was not originally part of the synagogue service. The Talmud (Sot. 49a, and Rashi ad loc.) specifically records that it first served as a concluding prayer to the public aggadic discourse which was also conducted in Aramaic. The Kaddishde-Rabbanan testifies to this connection. Special verses were even inserted into the Kaddish de-Rabbanan, for the nasi, resh galuta, and the heads of the academies (cf. Schechter in Gedenkbuch D. Kaufmann (1900), Hebr. part 52–4), or, as in Yemen, for such distinguished scholars as Maimonides (Letter of Naḥmanides to the French Rabbis, in Koveẓ Teshuvotha-Rambam, Leipzig edition (1859), 9a).

The Kaddish is mentioned as part of the prescribed synagogue daily prayers for the first time in tractate Soferim (c. sixth century C.E.). By geonic times, it had become a statutory synagogue prayer requiring the presence of ten adult males. The name Kaddish is first mentioned in Soferim 10:7, and the explanatory passage beginning "Blessed and praised … etc." (which is recited in Hebrew) was added for non-Aramaic speakers. The plea for the acceptance of the prayer ("May the prayers and supplications … etc."), the prayer for the welfare of the supplicants ("May there be abundant peace from heaven …"), and the concluding passage ("He who creates peace … etc.," cf. Job 25:2), were all later additions.

The German and Italian text, quoted above, is derived from Seder Rav *Amram (ed. by D. Hedegard, 1951) but exhibits local variations. In the Yemenite rite, the phrase le-ella u-le-ella ("much beyond all praises") is repeated all the year round, and not only during the *ten days of penitence . In Jerusalem and Safed the word kaddisha is added in the Kaddishde-Rabbanan ending "in this holy place and everywhere," and according to the Maḥzor Romanyah, several additions were made to the passage "May the prayers and supplication …" On the other hand, the final invitation to the congregation to respond "amen" (i.e., ve-imru, "and say") is neither in the Seder Rav Amram nor in other old manuscripts.

The practice of mourners reciting the Kaddish seems to have originated during the 13th century, at the time of severe persecutions in Germany by the Crusaders. No reference is made to it in the Maḥzor Vitry (the comment on page 74 is a later interpolation). According to a late aggadah (originating in Seder Eliyahu Zuta), R. *Akiva rescued a soul from punishment in hell by urging the latter's sons to recite the verse "May His great name be blessed …" The idea was already earlier expressed in Sanhedrin 104a. The mourner's Kaddish, now recited for 11 and not the full 12 months of the mourning period (according to the Sh. Ar., YD 376:4, the longer period implies a disrespectful view of the parents' piety), is also recited on the *yahrzeit . It has been suggested that the Kaddish became the mourner's prayer because of the mention of the resurrection of the dead in the messianic passage at the beginning. (The phrase, however, no longer occurs in most versions today.) The Kaddish is not properly "a prayer for the soul of the departed," but an expression of the ẓidduk ha-din ("justification of judgment") by the bereaved, conforming to the spirit of the maxim: "Man is obliged to give praise for the evil [that befalls him] even as he gives praise for the good" (Ber. 9:5). However, the prayer is popularly thought to be a "prayer for.Page 697  |  Top of Article the dead" to the extent that a son, in Yiddish, is often called "a Kaddish," and a man is said to have died "without leaving a Kaddish."

Musical Rendition

The various forms and functions of the Kaddish in the service are matched by a variety of musical configurations. Melodies range from simple parlando recitatives to elaborate solo productions, from light tunes in the popular taste to most solemn and impressive compositions. Salamone de *Rossi even set the entire text for three- and five-part chorus (Ha-Shirim asher li-Shelomo, Venice, 1623, nos. 1 and 16). Nevertheless, some guiding principles may be ascertained from the multiplicity of Kaddish tunes. In the Ashkenazi rite, the Kaddish before the Amidah (especially in the Musaf prayer) is distinguished by a striving for sublime melodic expression (see *Music , Jewish, Ex. 30; and *Mi-Sinai Niggunim , Ex. 1, nos. 3, 7, 9); its music is sometimes identical with that of the following Avot benediction. The Sephardim emphasize rather the Kaddish preceding Barekhu, by means of elaborate coloraturas (Idelsohn, Melodien, 2 (1922), 97, no. 50; 4 (1930), 137, no. 32; 195, no. 220), or by melodic identity with the said benediction. In the Ashkenazi synagogues, certain liturgical situations evoke Kaddish melodies of a definite character or form. The Kaddish which closes the Musaf prayer is preferably sung to a lively and gay tune, sometimes in a dancelike manner (earliest example notated by Benedetto Marcello in his Estro Poetico-Armonico, Venice, 1724–27). During festivals

A Kaddish melody sung before Barekhu in the Sephardi morning service on Rosh Ha-Shanah. Barekhu is sung to the same melody. From O. Cahby (ed.), Liturgie Sephardi no 65, 1959. Courtesy World Sephardi Federation, London.

A Kaddish melody sung before Barekhu in the Sephardi morning service on Rosh Ha-Shanah. Barekhu is sung to the same melody. From O. Cahby (ed.), Liturgie Sephardi no 65, 1959. Courtesy World Sephardi Federation, London.

the Kaddish over the Torah scroll and that before the evening Amidah are "labeled" with musical motives characteristic of the feast in question. On Simḥat Torah, which closes the cycle of holidays, the characteristic motives of all the festivals are assembled in the "Year-Kaddish."

The particular tunes anchored in local traditions are also worth mentioning, such as the so-called Trommel ("drumming") Kaddish which used to be sung in Frankfurt on the Main on "Purim Vinz" – the 20th of Adar, commemorating that day in 1616 when, after the *Fettmilch persecution, the Jews were brought back into the town "with trumpets and drums" as described in Elhanan Helen's Megillat Vinz (see F. Ogutsch, Der Frankfurter Kantor, 1930, 103, no. 319). The famous "Kaddish" of R. *Levi Isaac of Berdichev , A Din-Toyre mit Got, is a kind of introduction to the liturgical Kaddish, in which Levi Isaac addresses and rebukes God in an extended "prose poem" whose melody comprises elements of the High Holiday liturgy (see Idelsohn , Melodien, 10 (1932), XII, 29, no. 104). Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish (his Symphony no. 3, 1963) for narrator, choir, and orchestra is also a kind of "lawsuit with God" centering on the Kaddish and is thus a descendant of Levi Isaac's song.

[Hanoch Avenary]

Women and Kaddish

Responsa literature, historical sources, and contemporary testimony indicate that at least since the 17th century some women have recited the mourner's Kaddish, both at home during shiva and at daily services in the synagogue. Saying Kaddish at the grave during the funeral was also a customary practice among devout women in certain communities. The earliest known responsum in which the issue of women and Kaddish is discussed appears in the late 17th-century work of R. Jair Hayyim Ben Moses Samson *Bacharach , known as the Ḥavvat Yair. Based on a particular set of circumstances in Amsterdam, R. Bacharach's responsum, which became known as "the Amsterdam case," concludes that women may recite Kaddish, but the nuances of the responsum are used by various rabbis in different ways. Among those who restrict the Amsterdam case, arguing variously for limitations on women's expression of grief through public recitation of Kaddish, are the Be'er Heitev, Gesher ha-Ḥayyim, Mishpetei Uziel, Matteh Ephraim, and Aseh Lekha Rav. R. Israel Meir *Lau , former Ashkenazi chief rabbi in Israel, and Reuven Fink in the U.S. are adamant in their opposition to women's saying Kaddish.

While R. Bacharach, who realized that he was transforming social practice, also articulated caution, those who restrict his opinion project a general fear of women's entering the public religious sphere. This apprehension is absent in the vocal minority of decisors who offer lenient interpretations of the Amsterdam case, often adding specific details relevant to changed social circumstances. Examples are found in the writings of R. Joseph B. *Soloveitchik , R. Aaron *Soloveitchik , R. Moshe Leib Blair, and R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin.

In 1916, Henrietta *Szold expressed her conviction that it was never intended by Jewish law and custom that womenPage 698  |  Top of Article should be exempt from positive commandments if they were able to perform them, writing, "And of the Kaddish I feel sure this is particularly true" (letter to Haym Peretz, in Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality, ed. E. Umansky and D. Ashton (1992), 164–65).

Among Modern Orthodox women at the beginning of the 21st century, the recitation of Kaddish is widespread. In Reform, Reconstructionist, and most Conservative practice, women recite the mourner's Kaddish as a matter of course and are also counted among the ten persons required to constitute the minyan required for communal worship. In recent years, several women have written personal testimonies about reciting Kaddish in Orthodox settings. These include E.M. Broner (Mornings and Mourning: A Kaddish Journal (1994)) and Sara Reguer and Deborah E. Lipstadt (in essays anthologized in On Being a Jewish Feminist, ed. S. Heschel (1983; rep. 1995), 177–81, 207–9).

[Rochelle L. Millen (2nd ed.)]


D. de Sola Pool, The Old Jewish-Aramaic Prayer, the Kaddish (1909); Karel, in: Ha-Shilo'aḥ, 35 (1918), 36–49, 426–30, 521–7; Elbogen, Gottesdienst, 92–98; Abrahams, Companion, xxxixf., lxxxviiif.; Idelsohn, Liturgy, 84–88; J. Heinemann, Ha-Tefillot bi-Tekufat ha-Tanna'im ve-ha-Amora'im (19662), index, 189, S.V.; Heinemann, in: JSS, 5 (1960), 264–80. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: R.L. Millen, Women, Birth, and Death in Jewish Law and Practice (2004); D. Golinkin, Halakhah for Our Time: A Conservative Approach to Jewish Law (1991); idem (ed.), Responsa of the Va'ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, vol. 3 (1997); W. Jacob (ed.), American Reform Responsa: Collected Responsa of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1889–1983 (1983).

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition) 
Avenary, Hanoch, and Rochelle L. Millen. "Kaddish." Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, pp. 695-698. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 13 Dec. 2018.

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX2587510528

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  • Ashkenaz (Jewish settlement, NW Europe),
    • Kaddish,
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  • Conservative Judaism,
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      • Kaddish recitation by,
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  • Frankfurt on the Main (Germany),
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  • Liturgy,
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  • Modern Orthodox Judaism,
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  • Music,
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  • Prayer,
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  • Reconstructionist Judaism,
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  • Sephardim,
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  • Trommel Kaddish (song),
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  • Women,
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      • 11: 697-698