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Is there a guide that focusses on Mourner's Kaddish, as a sort of guide to get people going when the situation arises (sometimes unexpectedly)? Ideally one that gives an overview of the points in the service when to say it, what to do while saying it, and any other relevant details (such as customs for davening for the amud, tips to help remember, some background and history, etc etc.) - taking into account the most common variations and customs (e.g. Ashkenaz, Edot Mizrach, Sefard and Ari/Chabad?).

Note, as I am in a position to do so right now, I will be making a brief guide myself bli neder as an answer to this question. However, the question remains: are there any guides currently available? Answers can include a sefer/book, a website or even an app for the phone. Shiurim on the topic would also be welcome, but the convenience of a short written work is the kind of thing I think would be most beneficial to the goal I am trying to achieve for mourners here, which is a quick crash course and reference they can take with them to shul.

Please share any useful resources that a mourner can look at to help them start saying Kaddish.

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  • Rule #1: Don't fight about it. (I know that should be obvious but unfortunately it has to be stated explicitly right at the top.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 24 at 19:59
  • If you're able to learn this from regular prayer/mourning resources instead that's highly encouraged. For sociological reasons, the genre of kaddish resources you've asked about are geared largely to uneducated Jews who are finding religion in toto in this act. Accordingly, they often overplay much of the story, when really this whole kaddish thing (especially as commonly practiced today) is a relatively late and minor custom. (People who find it very emotionally satisfying can find that very hard to hear.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 24 at 21:43
  • @DoubleAA I intend that my own guide will be something along those lines, and I will make it a community post so feel free to help me hone it to adhere to your good recommendations
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jun 25 at 10:24

3 Answers 3

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There are several seforim written on the subject.

Artscroll famously produced a sefer on the topic which provides an in-depth look at each kaddish, with translation and numerous sources. There are sample pages available to view on the link.

Rabbi Yechiel Spero just published a new sefer entitled The Soul of Kaddish which is split into three main parts. The first section is a deep dive on the mechanics of Kaddish, why we do it / what it achieves etc. The second part explores the language etc. and the final section does exactly what you are after - providing a closer look at both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi texts and minhagim.

Finally, in a similar vein to what the US produced (as mentioned in @EdwardB's answer) - Artscroll also have a small handbook entitled The Funeral and Cemetary Handbook which is a good primer for those who unfortunately are experiencing a petirah for the first time.

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The United Synagogue (of the UK) has resources here including in relation to Kaddish.

These include a Kaddish pamphlet aimed principally at women (its title is Kaddish for Female Mourners) but which is a good general resource and which can be downloaded here

There are numerous well-respected books on Kaddish including:

Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier

Saying Kaddish by Anita Diamant; and

Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Kaddish Companion by Kerry Olitsky

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Rabbi Lamm's The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning is a classic resource for mourners. It has a chapter on kadish's significance, and a chapter on its practicalities. The book is also available online.

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