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Yesterday, I was holding one of the sifrei Torah after hagbahah, as the magbiaḥ needed to check on his children and my father was in some pain from holding it. However, when it came time for Yizkor, I requested that someone without parents take the sefer, as I felt that it was inappropriate for a non-yatom to have a place of prominence during the proceedings. (Our custom is for the sifrei Torah to be held on either side of the sha"tz during the recitation of Yizkor.)

Are there any sources which discuss this issue, and if not, is there a common practice in schuls where non-yetomim remain inside for Yizkor?

  • "which discuss this issue" - Do you mean why non-orphans are asked to leave, or what happens if a non-orphan stays? I don't think it's any problem per se, if they do stay. It's a minhag for them not to, but, other than, perhaps, some people making a fuss (are they superstitious?), I can't see it as a huge deal. – DanF Apr 20 '17 at 14:30
  • @DanF, I took it from my father, who had some discomfort with his arm which made holding a sefer properly difficult. – Noach MiFrankfurt Apr 20 '17 at 14:55
  • Did the answer below address your concern? I'm still unclear as to what it is. Were you concerned specifically about how to handle the sifrei Torah during Yizkor? I'm assuming that your shul does not have Torah "rests" as my shul does. Perhaps, this situation may support a good reason for your shul to get one or two, if there is space. They're not overly expensive. Another possibility - technically, as far as I know, Yizkor can be moved to after the return of the Torah, too. – DanF Apr 20 '17 at 17:37
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    -1 as question totally unclear – Moshe Steinberg Apr 20 '17 at 17:52
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    clarify what you are asking – Laser123 Apr 20 '17 at 22:03
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In most shuls that I daven at, the sifrei torah are placed on the bima during yizkor. That way, the people who were holding them can either go outside, or stand and say yizkor with proper kavana.

  • Is holding a Torah really a distraction to one's Kavana? Seems to be the opposite. People hold Torahs during many prayers (eg. Birkat HaChodesh, Kel Malei, etc.) – Double AA Apr 20 '17 at 17:42
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According to an article written by Rabbi / Sir Immanuel Jakobovits, sending children out during Yizkor is based on the shul's custom, and one should not alter from that custom. He recommends that children and non-orphans read a special "Prayer of Thanksgiving". I haven't been able to locate that reference in that link, but, B"N, I'll hunt a bit more.

I have been to a number of shuls where the rabbi specifically tells non-orphans to stay in shul so that they can recite the communal El Maleh for partisans, Hollocaust victims, 9/11 victims, veterans, Israeli soldiers, etc. I.e. - he feels this is a communal event. (Personally, I think his main motive is to speed the davening and avoid the noise and confusion caused by a huge mass leaving and re-entering the shul. That makes a lot of sense to me.)

It seems that having children and other non-orphans remain in shul is becoming a somewhat popular "trend" in "modern" shuls. Years ago (about 15 - 20) it seemed to be practice in many Conservative shuls. But, I have seen this become a bit more popular in "modern" Orthodox shuls (meaning non yeshivish or Hassidic) within the last 10 years or so. It's far from "mainstream", from what I can tell, but, it seems to be occurring more frequently, now. I can't say how much of this trend is influenced by viewing Yizkor as being a "family experience" (i.e., grandson should say Yizkor from grandpa, for example), is it to have more people recite the "communal" Yizkor, or is it just a decorum issue, as stated above.

  • The question is about "schuls where non-yetomim remain inside for Yizkor" – Double AA Apr 20 '17 at 18:18
  • I wonder if it's common at Breuer's for yetomim to remain in, considering that Minhag Ashkenaz is not to worry about superstition w/ regards to 'ayin hara' – Noach MiFrankfurt Apr 20 '17 at 22:24
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Can't say. I barely went into Breuer's when I lived near there a while ago. However, I think that the communal aspect of having everyone participate in the communal Kel Maleh would overcome or outweigh any concerns, anyway. – DanF Apr 21 '17 at 2:33

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