May their memory never buffer: Synagogue yahrzeit memorials are going digital

digital yahrzeit memorial
Lorraine Bloom of Beit Rayim Synagogue in Vaughan, Ont., scrolls through the names of departed members in the interactive Stern Family Yahrzeit Memorial, which the congregation bought in 2021. (Ellin Bessner photo)

Many Jews around the world will be reciting the Yizkor memorial prayer as Yom Kippur approaches this weekend. And while most synagogues maintain traditional memorial wall displays, with columns of brass yahrzeit plaques, a growing number of Jewish congregations in North America and even Europe are embracing new technology and replacing the hardware with interactive digital memorials.

Not only can you put longer, fuller biographies and photos on the digital memorial, but they can be also be accessed from anywhere in the world, even on your phone. It’s a modern solution for synagogues that are merging, as well as for others that are running out of wall space. And, yes, you can set the memorial so it will not violate the ban on using technology during Shabbat and holy days.

Beit Rayim Synagogue and School in Vaughan, Ont., is the latest shul in Canada to install a digital memorial kiosk; Ottawa’s Kehillat Beth Israel and Winnipeg’s Shaarey Zedek adopted digital yahrzeit monitors several years ago. Now, other congregations in Toronto and Montreal are considering the hi-tech concept. Already some 65 shuls in the United States have installed them.

On today’s The CJN Daily, Beit Rayim’s vice president, Lorraine Bloom, joins host Ellin Bessner, along with Heshy Spira, a partner with the W and E Baum company, a U.S.-based manufacturer which makes them.

What we talked about