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Ask the Expert: How Do I Know When To Stop Saying Kaddish?

Traditionally, mourners recite Kaddish for parents for 11 months minus one day.

Question: I’m coming up on the end of my 11 months of saying Kaddish for my father and I’m trying to figure out the right day to stop. I think the tradition is to say Kaddish for 11 months less one day. My father passed on August 5, 2023. How do I calculate when to stop saying Kaddish? Also, I understand the tradition is to get an aliyah on the last day.

— Jim S.

Dear Jim,

Traditionally, mourners recite Kaddish for their parents for 11 months minus a day so that a full 30 days will pass between the conclusion of reciting of saying Kaddish and the elapse of a full year following death. The 11-month rule also applies in a leap year, when there are 13 months. The Jewish year 5784, which corresponds to the Gregorian year running from the fall of 2023 to the fall of 2024, is a leap year. 

The Hebrew date of your father’s death is 18 Av, 5783. That means the 11-month period would conclude on 18 Sivan, 5784, which corresponds to June 24, 2024. Your last day of reciting Kaddish would therefore be the day before: June 23, 2024. Since 5784 is a leap year in the Jewish calendar, there will be two months rather than the normal one between the conclusion of Kaddish and your father’s yahrtzeit on 18 Av, 5784, which corresponds to the Gregorian date August 22, 2024. You can look up these dates through Hebcal’s handy Jewish date converter

Jewish law does not stipulate what to do at the completion of Kaddish, but there are many meaningful customs that you can observe, including receiving an aliyah to the Torah, reciting a passage from Pirkei Avot (or another rabbinic text), as well as sharing some personal remarks in the memory of your loved one. There are also other creative rituals you could observe to mark the occasion. 

May your father’s memory be for a blessing.

Danielle-Upbin Headshot

Rabbi Danielle Upbin is the associate rabbi and prayer leader at Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater, Florida. 

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