Five Jewish Readings for Memorial Day

Kate Bigam Kaput

Memorial Day may not be a Jewish holiday, but the concept of remembering and honoring our dead is certainly a Jewish value. Here are a few Memorial Day prayers you may wish to recite in honor of this holiday.

  • The Mourner’s Kaddish is the traditional Jewish prayer to be recited in memory of those who have passed away. This ancient prayer has been on the lips of Jewish mourners around the world for centuries, and it’s available here in both English and Hebrew, along with a Hebrew transliteration.
  • Rabbi David Wirtschafter’s “Service and Sacrifice: A Prayer for Memorial Day” is written for the Shabbat before Memorial Day. “We pray that the sacrifices of our fallen will forever be remembered, and that recognition of our veterans not merely convey thanks but demonstrate it,” he writes. “May we not merely ‘proclaim peace to those near and far’ but bring peace by doing the work required to realize it.”
  • “For those who have lost their lives,” writes Rabbi Matt Friedman, “grant consolation and Your presence to those who were close to them.” His "Prayer for Memorial Day" can also be used on Veterans Day, The 4th of July, and throughout the year, as it addresses those who currently serve, those who have died in service, and the leaders who guide us.
  • Rabbi Dr. Laurence Milder’s "Memorial Day Prayer" is actually a longer reading about Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn, a chaplain during World War II, who buried an extraordinary number of dead soldiers after the battle of Iwo Jima. He shares wisdom of his own, as well as words of comfort from Rabbi Gittelsohn.
  • In a piece titled “A Prayer for Memorial Day,” Rabbi Dr. Milder shares a prayer of mourning for those who have died in service to our country: “Their sacrifices are forever remembered by us and by our children for generations to come,” he writes. “We do not forget.” He also asks God to protect those who currently serve.