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Simple question - who mourns or says Kaddish for those that die leaving no relatives to sit shiva or say Kaddish for them?

I've seen a number of people in various shuls who say Kaddish for non-relatives. But, as I have never asked them, I assume that these are for friends or others whom they personally know, and, the deceased has living relatives who are not shul attenders.

Does the shul that they attend typically accept responsibility and the rabbi assigns a congregant? What if the deceased is unaffiliated with a shul? Does the funeral home or chevra kaddisha, etc. accept this responsibility? Or are such people just completely forgotten?

  • it would be very sad of someone was simply forgotten about. that being said the person saying kaddish doesn't have to be related to the person who passed away. – Laser123 Nov 1 '17 at 17:54
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    @Laser123 "doesn't have to be related" - yes, I realize that. It's why I asked who takes responsibility for the "loners". – DanF Nov 2 '17 at 2:40
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    Any reason that it wouldn't just be anyone who vunteers since there is no one present with an obligation to do so? – Laser123 Nov 3 '17 at 16:20
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There is a tradition to pay someone to say kaddish on behalf of people who have no sons to say it for them. R Chaim Binyamin Goldberg (Mourning in Halacha, p. 362) writes

If the deceased has no relatives to recite Kaddish for him, someone should be hired to do so. It brings more merit to the deceased if the person takes payment than if he does not not (Kaf Hachayim 55:30, Beit Yosef end of 403, Ben Ish Chai Vayechi 15, Magen Avraham 132:2) In the morning, before praying, this person should state "All the kaddishim I recite today are for the benefit of the soul of [Ploni]"

R Eliezer Melamed in Peninei Halacha here rules similarly

When none of these relatives can say Kaddish for the deceased, part of the inheritance money should be used to hire a God-fearing person to recite Kaddish for him. It is good to hire someone who is engrossed in Torah. If there is someone in the family who is occupied with Torah study, he takes precedence over a stranger. The monetary compensation for the Kaddish is important in order to ensure the fulfilment of its recital. Furthermore, by employing someone who is involved in Torah or a poor person who has children to support, the deceased will acquire more merit.

And indeed one can find a number of societies who will say Kaddish on behalf of departed Jews, e.g., Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, Kupath Rabbi Meir Baal Haness and saykaddish.com

Anyone can hire someone to say Kaddish so I assume that who does it depends on the specifics of each situation.

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