Is there any reason why YIZKOR in particular, should be said in shul (the synagogue) rather than at home?

Why is it common (orthodox) practice that women who almost never attend Shul make an extreme effort to come to shul for Yizkor?

  • 1
    נדר שהודר ברבים אין לו הפרה
    – Joel K
    May 23, 2018 at 17:29
  • See OC 621:6 The origin of Yizkor lies in the nedarim to tzedaka that people made on Yom Kippur on behalf of the dead. I speculate that those nedarim were specifically made in public to give them greater weight.
    – Joel K
    May 23, 2018 at 17:39
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    @JoelK So this is your own speculation? If this is indeed so, how would that apply today, when each person says Yizkor quietly, and noone hears what anyone else is pledging? Also in small (young) congergations, there may not even be a minyan left inside the shul at Yizkor, so even had one pledged aloud it would not be ברבים. May 23, 2018 at 17:44
  • Yes. My own speculation. Hence a comment rather than an answer. As to your follow-up questions, we tend to be pretty conservative. Once a minhag develops (e.g. that women go to shul on yizkor days) it’s often unlikely to change, even if circumstances do.
    – Joel K
    May 23, 2018 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


According to this OU article, Yizkor can be said at home:

Why is Shul So Crowded? Can Yizkor be Recited at Home?

It’s ironic that shuls become extra crowded because of a prayer that doesn’t need to be said with a minyan!

It is not uncommon that people who are not regular synagogue attendees will appear on days when Yizkor is recited. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s neither inconsistent nor hypocritical. It’s actually a wonderful thing that those who are not regular worshippers are willing to go the extra mile (sometimes literally) on behalf of relatives who are no longer with us. If anything, serving as the catalyst for their heirs to attend shul is a merit for the deceased! But if one cannot make it to shul, Yizkor can (and should) still be recited.

I've bolded a part in the above paragraph as this is, according to the author, one reason why many people attend shul for Yizkor.

My thinking is that there may be other influences:

  • Mishnah Berurah, among other sources mentions the importance of donating charity on the festival days, not just on Yom Kippur (read the article for its mentioning of this.) It's possible that a shul appeal may be a motive for people to attend and moreso, to donate. Public "pressure" to donate does tend to work well. (If you didn't hear about the shul's appeal, seriously, would you donate to the shul? Perhaps, yes, but not as quickly.)

  • Many people find it hard to mourn / memorialize on their own. They also may not be sure about what to pray or say, even with a siddur available. Many shuls make a "formality" of Yizkor. E.g., the rabbi makes a themed sermon; the chazzan sings a stirring tune; congregational / responsive reading, etc. Even if there is none of that, being with fellow mourners tends to make things easier for people.

  • Among non-Orthodox people, I've noticed that there is a general trend of many to associate shul with the dead. I.e., other than High Holidays (and even that's quickly dwindling), people will come to shul only for Kaddish (yes, I know that you need a minyan for that, but, the "nice" thing would be to "reciprocate" when others have to say Kaddish and the shul always has trouble getting a minyan.) and Yizkor. I asked a MY question about this phenomenon, a while ago.

  • Re "I've bolded a part in the above paragraph as this is, according to the author, one reason why many people attend shul for Yizkor.": You bolded "If anything, serving as the catalyst for their heirs to attend shul is a merit for the deceased" but I don't see in your quotation that the author indicates that that's why people attend services.
    – msh210
    May 26, 2018 at 22:44
  • @msh210 There is no halachic opinion that I could locate that explains why women or others consider Yizkor a specifically important occasion to attend more than any others. Thus, what I bolded is the author's opinion. I can clarify this in my answer. However, as I have cited Mishnah Berurah, I thought that mentioning that, specifically, wasn't necessary.
    – DanF
    May 27, 2018 at 2:22

The reason it was instituted cause like this people came to shull & gave money le'ilu nishmas those people that passed on. Of course they only promised the money on yom tov & gave the money after yom tov

  • Please elucidate a bit in your answer to explain what the pledging money le'ilu nishmas those people that passed on has to do with going to shul. May 23, 2018 at 17:46
  • Howi, since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Amongst others it is important to source answers (i.e., where do you know this from?) You might also clarify what "it was instituted" means, e.g., when?/by whom? Welcome again!
    – mbloch
    May 23, 2018 at 17:51

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