Staying Sane in Surfside

Rabbi Aryeh Citron, Rabbi of the Surfside Minyan writes of his experiences following the collapse of the Champlain Towers South, located a block and a half away from his shul; the pain, the questions, and the drive to continue.

By Rabbi Aryeh Citron – the Surfside Minyan

Our shul (located a block and a half from the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Surfside) will never be the same. When a shul is small, every member is precious. Everyone knows everyone else and talks to all of them. The void of the missing members is acute. And the pain is not quite bearable. As I write these lines, I cry for their families, for their children, siblings, parents, nephews, nieces, cousins, in-laws, friends, and for myself. 

Why? Why this way? Why so much pain? All at once. How can so much pain be concentrated in such a small space and time? 

Why not 5 minutes of warning? Why no survivors? What happened to all the prayers? The Tehillim? The mitzvos? The Emunah? 

Please Hashem, we don’t have the strength for such tragedy. How can we heal? Where do we go from here?

I say Shema Yisrael Hashem Echad. I close my eyes. And I see the towers collapsing in front of my eyes. I know Hashem is one. We must accept His will. But where do we put our pain? Where does it fit?

I go to daven in other shuls. In other communities, life is normal. People talk about fishing trips, vacations. I feel like I’m a visitor from another zone, a war zone. Streets blocked off. Police everywhere. Cranes. Dump Trucks. Streets lined with heavy machinery.

Everywhere I go, there are volunteers, looking to help, begging to help. What else can one do in the face of a tragedy of this magnitude? 

There are people of all races, chaplains of all religions, therapists, therapy dogs. Too much food.

Too many shiva houses. No time for all the funerals. Families still waiting, some still daring to hope. When will the phone call come? Who will be called first? Why? 

I had wanted to write about Reb Tzvi Ainsworth. A true friend. A dependable congregant. A happy face and a pillar of our small community. A devoted husband, father, grandfather. An unrepentant kibbitzer. 

But it’s too soon. His presence is so palpable that describing him in the past tense seems unreal.

The same applies to Chaim Rosenberg. 

And to Brad Cohen, who has not yet been identified at the time of this writing.

Instead, I will write some of the laws and customs of saying Kaddish. May it be a merit to all of their holy souls. It is mostly taken from Piskei Teshuvot by Rabbi Simcha Rabinowitz. See also here for an article about the meaning of Kaddish.



Said after Prayer with a Minyan

Kaddish is a prayer which is recited only in the presence of a minyan (a quorum of ten male Jews over the age of 13) as it represents a public sanctification of G-d’s name (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 55:2). It is only recited after a prayer which, too, was recited by at least a minyan. For example, the kaddish after Aleinu is only said if Aleinu was said by a minyan. 

If there was no minyan present at the time of the prayer which precedes kaddish, the end of that prayer should be repeated when the minyan arrives in order to allow the kaddish to be recited. At least three (or, at the very least, two) pesukim (Torah verses) should be recited in the presence of a minyan before kaddish can be said (Piskei Teshuvot 55:3).

Number of Daily Kadeishim

There are different opinions concerning how many Kaddeishim (plural of Kaddish) one should recite (or hear) every day. (The first two numbers apply to hearing or saying Kadish. The third number refers to the amount of Kaddeshim a mourner should say.) Here are the numbers that are mentioned:

  • Seven

The basic number of daily Kaddeishim is seven. The verse in Tehillim (119:164) alludes to this when it says, “I praise You seven times a day.” (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 55:1)

  • Ten

According to the Zohar, one should hear (and respond to) at least ten Kaddeishim a day (Tikunei Zohar 33a).

  • Sixteen

The Rebbe Rashab wrote that during the 11 months of mourning he endeavored to say (at least) 16 kaddesihim a day (Book of Chabad Lubavitch Customs, pg. 180). According to the Zohar (vol. 1 62b), each kaddish protects the soul for one and a half hours. So 16 kadeishim protects the soul for all 24 hours of the day. 

These 16 are: 

  1. Kaddish DeRabanan before Hodu
  2. Half Kaddish before Yishtabach
  3. Half Kaddish after Tachanun of Shacharit
  4. Kaddish Titkabel after Uva LeTziyon
  5. Kaddish Yatom after Shir Shel Yom
  6. Kaddish DeRabanan after Ein Keilokeinu
  7. Kaddish Yatom after Aleinu of Shacharit
  8. Kaddish Yatom after Tehillim
  9. Kaddish after reciting Mishnayot after the Shacharit prayers
  10. Half Kaddish before the Mincha Amidah
  11. Half Kaddish after Tachanun of Mincha
  12. Kaddish Yatim after Aleinu of Mincha
  13. Kaddish after reciting Mishnayot after the Mincha prayers
  14. Half Kaddish at the Beginning of Maariv
  15. Half Kaddish before Maariv Amidah
  16. Kaddish Titkabel after Maariv Amidah

There are an additional two kaddeishim recited daily according to Chabad custom – after Aleinu of maariv and and after Mishnayot after maariv.


According to Chabad custom, it is customary for the one saying Kadish to bow 11 times when reciting Kaddish Titkabel or 10 times when reciting a regular Kaddish (Book of Chabad Lubavitch Customs, page 16 and note 30 in Shulchan Aruch HaRav 56 with English). 

As follows,

  1. When saying (Yitgadal…) shmei rabba; 
  2. at (Veyatzmach…) viykarev meshichei;
  3. at (Ba’agala… ) ve’imru Amen. At this point the head is raised momentarily
  4. Again when saying, yehei shmei rabba… yitbareich, after which one again stands erect before bowing the head slightly and saying
  5. Veyishtabach until veyit’halal. After this one should stand erect and then bow the head again when saying:
  6. Shmei deKudsha Brich Hu; 
  7. And then again when saying ve’imru Amen (at the end of the half kaddish). 
  8. In addition, when saying ve’imru Amen at the end of the sentence in Kaddish Titkabel that begins with the word titkabel, one should bow one’s head slightly.
  9. When reciting Oseh shalom... at the end of Kaddish, bow to the right when saying the word Oseh
  10. To the left when saying shalom
  11. Then straight ahead when saying bimromav

It is noteworthy that this list differs slightly to the one in Shulchan Aruch HaRav 56:8.

See also Kaf HaChaim 56:35.

Interrupting for Kaddish 

If a mourner is in the middle of Pesukei DeZmirah and the congregation is up to reciting a Kaddish, the mourner may interrupt to say that Kaddish if he is afraid that he will not be able to recite it at a later minyan. This only applies to a Kaddish Yatom and not to a Kaddish DeRabanan which contains “extra” prayers (Piskei Teshuvot 132:15).

A Child Saying Kaddish

A child who is in the year of mourning after a parent may say Kaddish even if he is very young, as long as he can read and pronounce the words properly. If he is less than 6 years old, it is best for an adult to recite it with him (ibid 21).

Out Loud

Even if many people are reciting Kaddish, each person should recite it loud enough so that it can be heard by at least 10 people as Kaddish is supposed to be said with, and on behalf of, a minyan (ibid 22).

Pay Attention

While a mourner is saying Kadish the other congregants should listen and pay attention to the words he is saying. As the Shulchan Aruch HaRav says (56:4), “One must listen in order to focus on the phrase Iin Kaddish) to which he is responding, just as initially, one is required to listen attentively to a blessing to which one is responding Amen.”

May Hashem Elevate All of the Souls Lost Here in Surfside and Around the World

To subscribe to Rabbi Citron’s weekly parsha email please click here
To join the Likutei Torah Bytes (a daily 5 minute lesson of Likutei Torah on the parsha) Whatsapp group, click here 

In keeping in line with the Rabbonim's policies for websites, we do not allow comments. However, our Rabbonim have approved of including input on articles of substance (Torah, history, memories etc.)

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any additional information to contribute to this article, it will be added below.

  1. “11. Half Kaddish after Tachanun of Mincha”
    Should be Kaddish *Titkabel* after Tachanun of Mincha

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

advertise package