Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SHEVAT - Yahrzeit Month around here

Wednesday, Rosh Hodesh Shevat. Time to make sure we have yahrzeit candles. Let's review.

4 Shevat. Raymond Gordon. My mother's father. Forty years. Yerahmiel ben Zvi and Chana.
This will be my first time keeping this yahrzeit myself. The last few years, I have gone up to my mother's and lit the candle with her.
A few years ago, I learned of a custom whereby you keep the yahrzeits that your deceased parents would have kept. (Just their own, not the ones they inherited from their parents.)  It's a matter of kibbud av va'eim - honoring your parents.
That is not relevant for my father, who died thirty-one years ago.  My grandmother outlived him by fifteen years and asked me to keep my grandfather's and to say kaddish for her when the time came. So I am doing this without regard to that custom.
My mother never wanted me to say kaddish for her parents' yahrzeits while she was still living, so now I begin.
My gf on right. Also U. Frank, A. Rose &
A. Mary Jaffe who is buried in New York.

My grandfather was born in Dolginov, near Minsk. His mother died when he was a teenager, away at yeshiva. He became a Socialist and went to the US in 1906. In 1914 he married my grandmother, whom he had known in Russia, and they lived in Vandergrift Pennsylvania, where he owned a furniture store. My mother was the youngest of their five children.
My grandfather died in Pittsburgh and was buried in Washington DC. His is the only one of my grandparents' funerals that I attended. He and my grandmother are in adjacent graves.
His brother Frank and wife Mary are one row behind them. Next to U Frank are his sister Rose and her husband Max Shapiro. In front of them, adjacent but one to my grandmother is Celia Fritz, a first cousin of my grandfather's father. (Her granddaughter lives a fifteen minute walk from me in Jerusalem and I call her my closest living relative.)
I visited those graves this past summer for the first time since my grandfather's funeral.

I'll tell you about some of the other Shevat yahrzeits as the month progresses. The full month includes (ancestors - mine and my wife's - plus others whose yahrzeits I personally observe):
My mother - 15 Shevat, my sister Devorah (Carol) - 25 Shevat, my wife's father - 8 Shevat, my wife's maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother - 7 Shevat, my father's mother's father's mother - 7 Shevat, my father's father's mother's father's mother - 27 or 28 Shevat, my wife's father's mother's mother - 5 Shevat, my wife's father's mother's mother's father - 24 Shevat. (On the other hand, we also mark the birthdays of two three of my grandsons.)


  1. I know of a third birthday that you celebrate in Shevat :-)

    Sylvia, A"H, observed her grandparents' yahrzeits and she could never really explain it to me. Just said it was a custom. Now I understand, thanks to you.

    1. It wasn't what you meant, but there are actually three grandsons this month. (Corrected above.)