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ASHKAVAH (Heb. אַשְׁכָּבָה; "laying to rest"; also Hashkavah), designation of memorial prayer in the Sephardi (Italian and Oriental) ritual. The Ashkavah is recited every Sabbath, on festivals, and on Mondays and Thursdays. It is said either after the Torah scroll has been returned to the Ark, or immediately after the Torah portion has been read, at the request of a mourner who had been called up to the Torah reading. After introductory verses from Psalms, Proverbs, etc., the Ashkavah continues: "May the repose which is prepared in the celestial abode under the wings of the Divine Presence… be the lot, dwelling, and the resting place of the soul of our deceased (so and so)…" and concludes with the phrase: "May he/she and all His people of Israel, who slumber in this dust, be included in mercy and forgiveness. May this be His will and let us say, Amen." For a deceased Torah scholar extra biblical verses are prefixed (Job 28:12; Ps. 25:12; 31:20; 36:8–9). A different text, opening with Proverbs 31:10–31, is used for women. A much shorter version is used by the Oriental Sephardim. The Ashkavah is also recited at the graveside as part of the funeral service. On the Day of Atonement, in many Sephardi congregations, the Ashkavah forms part of the evening service, and, as in the Ashkenazi ritual, the names of the deceased members of the community are read. The vows for charity in memory of the departed are, however, made the next day between Musaf and Minḥah. The full text of the Ashkavah may be found in M. Gaster, The Book of Prayer (1901), 200–01; De Sola Pool, Book of Prayer (1954), 206–7.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.