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Yom Kippur

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Yom Kippur is one of the most important Jewish holidays with a more extensive liturgy than any of the others. "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," which makes what the day is about pretty self-evident. It is set on the tenth day of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar (this usually falls at the end of September to early October in the Gregorian calendar) and a strict day of rest as per Leviticus 16:29-30 and Leviticus 23:26-32.[1] As the Jewish day runs from sunset to sunset, services begin while it is still the 9 Tishrei. Just prior to sunset the Kol Nidre prayer is recited [2]. A special Ma'ariv (evening) service is then recited[3]. Synagogue services begin in the morning with the Shacharit (morning service) [4]followed by Torah reading[5], Yizkor (the memorial service for the dead)[6] and them the musaf (additional service)[7]. A short break is normally taken followed by Minchah (afternoon service) at which the Torah is once again read[8]. This is followed by the "Neilah" service[9], at the end of which the Shofar ("ram's horn") is sounded with the declaration "L'shana Haba B'Yerushalayim" ("next year in Jerusalem"), referring to the redemption and coming of the Messiah, in fulfillment of the promise by God that the Jewish people will return to the Promised Land of Israel where the Holy Temple will be rebuilt. This is followed by the standard (normal weekday) evening prayers called "Ma'ariv". The services include a prayer called "Vidui", a confession of sins, which is said numerous times throughout the holiday.

Ultimately, Yom Kippur is the day on which the judgement given on Rosh Hashanah (The New Year) is sealed. From the start of Rosh Hashanah (1 Tishrei) until Yom Kippur (10 Tishrei) is known as "aseret yemei teshuvah", the Ten days of Repentance as it is believed that three things can alter a harsh judgement: Prayer, Repentance and Charity. During this period Jews concentrate on examining their actions, finding things they have done wrong so they can fix it, people they have wronged so they can gain forgiveness and giving charity to aid others in need. As Yom Kippur is the final day of this period, and the day dedicated to prayer and repentance (we are not allowed to handle money on Yom Kippur), a frequent theme is the request that our repentance and prayer be accepted and that we be written into the Book of Life for a good, healthy and prosperous year. A special prayer book called the machzor is used on this day in addition to Rosh Hashanah. A 25-hour fast begins at sundown the eve of Yom Kippur and expires at nightfall the day of the holiday. Depending on which sect of Judaism a person belongs to, this can include a prohibition of drinking even water, bathing, wearing leather shoes, anointment with oils (i.e., cologne or perfume), and sex. Yom Kippur ends the High Holy Days, the stretch of ten days beginning with Rosh Hashanah.

External links[edit]

Aish HaTorah


  1. Leviticus 16 and 23.
  2. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p58-60
  3. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p62-190
  4. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p234-440
  5. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p440-468
  6. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p470-482
  7. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p482-624
  8. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p626-704
  9. Yom Kippur Machzor, Artscoll, 2004 p704-764