Who invented the Yahrtzeit tablet (panel)?

Standard synagogue "In Memoriam" panel, featuring dozens of plaques, each identifying a deceased person, and each with a small light bulb socket next to it.

At first glance, this could not have been common before 150 years ago, as there is no room to place candles where the electric lights go.

Who invented it, and is it mentioned anywhere in seforim?

  • 3
    The Gabboim invented this for raising money for the shuls and themselves :p Mar 13, 2013 at 2:56
  • Why do you suspect candles matter? Maybe in Europe they just had names? And btw they had electricity in Europe too.
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2013 at 3:04
  • They used electricity in 1600's poland? Mar 13, 2013 at 3:05
  • 2
    They did in 1900. In Europe. One of the most famous responsa about electricity and Shabbat was authored by the Chief Rabbi of Vilna (Chaim Ozer Gradinsky in his Achiezer).
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2013 at 3:05
  • @DoubleAA fine. Maybe it was invented in the (relatively recent) 1900's Poland. Not Pre-Historic (1500) Poland Mar 13, 2013 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


Old shuls in Europe have these plaques as well, but without the lights. Is your question when (and why) lights were added, or when these plaques were first used? I recall from Medieval Jewish History classes that the concept/importance of Yahrtzeit was popularized in the aftermath of the Crusades.

  • A source for the last sentence would greatly enhance this answer. As would a source for the first. The middle sentence, however, ought to be a comment on the question, not part of an answer.
    – Seth J
    Nov 14, 2013 at 20:59

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