The translation and transliteration below are adapted, with permission, from the Seif Edition of the Transliterated Siddur, for Shabbat and Festivals, a Mesorah Publication for the OU Centennial, with Introductory Essays and Comments by Rabbi Benjamin Yudin.
In the Yizkor Prayer below, whenever the name of the deceased is mentioned, it is given in the following form: The deceased’s Hebrew name followed by “ben”, “son of”, then, in the Ashkenazic Tradition, the deceased’s father’s Hebrew name; in the Sefardic Tradition, the deceased’s mother’s Hebrew name. If any of the Hebrew names are not known, consult your local Orthodox Rabbi as to how to proceed.
Example: (slightly complicated; if it helps, draw a diagram)
Yehoshua, from our previous examples, had a brother, Moishie, who unfortunately passes away.
Now Levy, as well as his sister, Dinah, Yehoshua’s children, are saying “Yizkor” for their “Uncle Moishie.”
In the Ashkenazic Tradition, they would refer to him as “Moshe ben Reuven;” in the Sefardic Tradition, they would refer to him as “Moshe ben Shlomit.”
Meaning of “Bond of Life”
The term “bond of life” which appears below in the request that the deceased’s soul be “bound in the bond of life,” most probably refers to the attainment of greater and greater closeness to Hashem. Hashem is called, “Chai HaOlamim,” the “Life of the Worlds,” meaning the source of life in “Olam HaZeh,” “this world,” the world of the here-and-now, and in “Olam HaBa,” the “world to come,” the indescribable spiritual “world” which we confidently expect to experience, as a cardinal principle of the Jewish faith, after death.
“Without Taking a Vow”
You will note that in the text below, in connection with the pledge to charity made by the individual reciting Yizkor, the phrase “without taking a vow,” appears. The reason for this is the great hesitancy in the Jewish Religion about making vows, which require a person to follow through, or be in big trouble. One source for this is in Megillat Kohelet, “When you make a vow to G-d, do not delay paying it, for He has no liking for fools; what you vow, pay. It is better not to vow at all, than to vow, and not pay.” (Kohelet 5:3-4)
For One’s Male Relative: Hebrew Text
Hebrew Yizkor Text for a Male Relative
For One’s Male Relative: Transliteration
Yizkor E-lohim nishmat
Z’keini: (name of the deceased) Dodi: (name of the deceased) Achi: (name of the deceased) B’ni: (name of the deceased) Ba-ali: (name of the deceased)
She-halach l’olamo, Ba-avur sheb’li neder Etayn tz’dakah ba-ado.
Bis-char zeh T’hay nafsho tz’rurah Bitz-ror hacha-yim Im nishmot Avraham, Yitzchak, v’Ya-akov; Sarah, Rivkah Rachel v’Lay-ah, V’im sh’or tzadikim v’tzidkaniyot Sheb’Gan Eden.
For One’s Male Relative: Translation
May the L-rd remember the soul of
my grandfather: (name of the deceased) my uncle: (name of the deceased) my brother: (name of the deceased) my son: (name of the deceased) my husband: (name of the deceased)
who has gone on to his world, because, without making a vow, I shall give to charity on his behalf.
As reward for this, may his soul be bound in the Bond of Life, together with the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah; and together with the other righteous men and women in the Garden of Eden.
Now let us respond: Amen.