Judaism has traditions which help mourners deal with the loss of their loved ones. Our sages taught that it is a mitzvah to console the bereaved. We have taken this to mean that we are commanded as a community to be there for one another during this difficult time.
The word "yarhzeit" is Yiddish for “anniversary (of a person’s death)”. On this anniversary one lights a 24 hour candle, so that the light can remind you of them throughout the day. It is customary to recognize this date by the Hebrew date of their passing, but many in the Reform community honor the secular date. At Temple Beth-El we honor whichever tradition feels right to you.
It is also customary to recite the mourner's kaddish at services close to the date. If you would like the yahrzeit of your family member mentioned at services and or published in the monthly newsletter please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yarhzeit candles are also lit four other times of the year: on Yom Kippur, and the last day of the three pilgrimage holidays: Shemini Atzeret (the 8th day of Sukkot), Passover, and Shavuot. Bear in mind that Jewish 'days' begin the evening prior, so if your loved one passed away on May 8, 2012 to 16 Iyyar 5772, you would light a candle for them on the evening of May 7th, or 15 Iyyar.
Yit-ga-dal v'yit-ka-dash sh'mei ra-ba, b'al-ma di-v'ra chi-ru-tei, v'yam-lich mal-chu-tei b'chai-yei-chon uv'yo-mei-chon uv'chai-yei d'chol-beit Yis-ra-eil, ba-a-ga-la u-viz-man ka-riv, v'im'ru: Amen.
An English Translation:
May God's name be great and may it be made holy in the world created according to God's will. May God rule in our own lives and our own days, and in the life of all the House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.