Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur History

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, Hebrew: יום כיפור) is the last day to atone our sins of the Ten Days of Repentance, which start on the New Year (Rosh Hashanah). This is a fast mentioned in the Bible and the punishment mentioned for not keeping this fast is excommunication.

Jews seek to 'purify their souls' on this day, by abstaining from common pleasures.  Yom Kippur is celebrated by most all Jewish denominations.  It is a fast day from the eve until the next day nightfall (twenty five hours).  No food or drink is permissible.  It is a day on which Jews 'afflict the soul', which includes wearing only non-leather shoes, not combing one's hair and no marital relations.

For many Orthodox Jews, most of Yom Kippur is spent in prayer in the Synagogue.  Five prayer services are held (as opposed to the normal three daily prayers).

Yom Kippur Facts

  • It is customary to eat a festive meal on the Eve of Yom Kippur with round challah bread, a meat meal and sustaining foods. One is not allowed to risk one's life and thus anyone in danger of life from fasting, including the young and sick are not allowed to fast. Yom Kippur is the only Jewish fast observed on a Sabbath, due to its importance.
  • It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Some people wear a Kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.
  • Yom Kippur Liturgy in Orthodox and most Traditional communities includes Kol Nidre prayer in which Jews annul all their vows and Avinu Malkeinu, 'Our father our King'.

  • The last of the Orthodox and traditional five Synagogue services for Yom Kippur is the Neilah service (final 'closing of the gates').  It is considered particularly heart-rendering and people often cry during the service.  At the end of the service, a Shofar (ram's horn) is blown and the end of the day is pronounced.
  • Jews ask the Lord to be considered both as a child and as a servant.  They request from God that as a father of a child, God have mercy as a father does over his child.

Yom Kippur Top Events and Things to Do


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