According to AskMoses, The prevalent Sephardic custom, based on the teachings of the holy Arizal, is to recite the kaddish for 12 months minus one week. Just wondering where this is brought down? Can't seem to find it. Can anyone cite any other Sephardic sources, if possible?
This article on a conservative Jewish website lists all the customs and their sources: http://www.schechter.edu/how-long-should-a-child-recite-the-mourners-kaddish-for-a-parent-yoreh-deah-3764-and-orah-hayyim-1322/
Here are some excerpts showing that in fact the original custom was a full 12 months:
A) Twelve Full Months
This was the opinion of many rabbis from the 14th-20th centuries:Kol Bo and Orhot Hayyim (Provence, 14th century) cited above;Responsa Ribash (Spain, 14th century) cited above regardingkaddish derabbanan; Rabbi Yitzhak Lampronti (Italy, 1679-1756) relates an Italian custom that the mourner serves as cantor for Uva L’tziyon and Kaddish Titkabel; Rabbi Hayyim Hizkiyah Medini (Jerusalem and Crimea, 1832-1904) quotes a number of authorities who hold this opinion; Rabbi Avraham Dov Lichtenstein,Hinukh Beit Yehudah, No. 92 quoted by Rabbi Greenwald p. 370; this was the instruction of the Rabbi N. Hacohen author ofSemikhat Hakhamim quoted by Rabbi Greenwald, p. 169, note 19; Rabbi Shlomo Kluger (Brody, 1765-1869) instructed his son and his students that they should recite kaddish for him for 12 full months and, if he should die in a leap year, for 13 full months — see Beit Yitzhak, Yoreh Deah, No. 157, quoted by Rabbi Greenwald, ibid., and by Rabbi Gedalia Felder, p. 224; Rabbi Rafael Aharon ibn Shimon, Nehar Mitzrayim, Alexandria, 1908,Aveilut, parag. 161, says that this is the custom of both Egypt and Jerusalem; Rabbi Ya’akov Cohen, Divrei Ya’akov, Djerba, 1912, quoted by Rabbi Ya’akov Yosef, p. 214, note 6; Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Algazi, Shalmei Tzibbur, fol. 190b quoted by Sedei Hemedand by Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad, Responsa Rav Pealim, Part 3, Yoreh Deah, No. 32; Rabbi David Novak.
The next two customs are late variations of the custom of reciting kaddish for 11 months:
E) Twelve Months Except for the Last Week
A number of rabbis tried to reconcile the requirement of reciting kaddish for 12 months with the popular belief that the judgment of the wicked in Gehinom is 12 months. These rabbis compromised by ruling that a mourner should recite kaddish for twelve months less the last week.
Rabbi Hayyim Benveniste (Turkey, 1603-1673) wrote in Knesset Hagedolah to Yoreh Deah end of parag. 403, Hagahot Beit Yosef17 (as quoted by Rabbi Yitzhak Lampronti, Pahad Yitzhak and by Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad, Responsa Rav Pealim, Part 3,Yoreh Deah, No. 32):
Said the editor: But I ruled to recite kaddish and prayer for all twelve months less one week, since the reason is because the judgment of the wicked in Gehinom is twelve months, as long as one day is missing from the 12 months, it is enough.
Rabbi Hayyim Yosef David Azulai, the Hida, concurred (Birkei Yosef to Yoreh Deah 376, subparagraph 8):
According to what the Ari [Rabbi Yitzhak Luria] ztz”l wrote that kaddish also helps to elevate his soul [i.e. of the departed], it seems that [the mourner] should recite kaddish for all twelve months. But because of the masses [who think that this means that the mourner’s parent was wicked], he should omit the last week…
Rabbi Abraham Samuel Sofer (1815-1871), author of the Ketav Sofer, actually did this for his father, Rabbi Moshe Sofer (1762-1839), according to Rabbi Yoel Roth, Responsa Beit Hayotzer,Orah Hayyim, No. 45 as quoted by Rabbi Greenwald, p. 369, note 19. Rabbi Tukechinsky, p. 327, reports that some individuals follow the ruling of Rabbi Benveniste and Rabbi Azulai. Rabbi Abner Weiss agrees with this custom if the person reciting kaddish is nota son.
F) Twelve Full Months Except for One Week at theBeginning of the Twelfth Month
According to this custom, one recites kaddish for 11 months, stops for one week, and then continues until the yahrzeit. This was the custom in Baghdad in the 19th century, according to Rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad (d. 1909, Ben Ish Hai, First Year, Parashat Vayehi, parag. 14). After quoting the above-mentioned opinion of Rabbi Azulai to recite kaddish for one week less than 12 months, he adds:
And here in our city Baghdad this was their custom: At the end of 11 months they do extra learning… and they take a break [from reciting kaddish] after this for one week at the beginning of the 12th month, and even though the rabbi z”l [i.e. Rabbi Azulai] wrote that one takes a break during the last week of the [12th] month, it doesn’t matter for it’s all the same.
He repeats this custom in his Responsa Rav Pealim, Part 3, Yoreh Deah, No. 32, where he justifies it on the basis of mysticism. One must recite the kaddish at the end of the 12 months because the main ascent of the soul in the heavens is at that time.
This custom is recommended by Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef on the basis of Rabbi Hayyim Benveniste and Rabbi Hayyim Yosef David Azulay, but, as we have seen, those two rabbis did not recommend this specific custom. This is also the opinion of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, Tzror Hahayyim, parag. 263, as quoted by Rabbi Goldman, p. 132, note 50.