Yom Kippur is probably the most important Jewish holiday. Also called the Day of Atonement, one of its central themes is repentance. Yom Kippur completes the annual period in Judaism known as the High Holy Days. Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month Tishrei of the Hebrew calender, which usually falls between September and October on the standard calender.
The main theme of Yom Kippur is repentance. On Yom Kippur people fast for 25 hours, it begins the day before Yom Kippur and continues until nightfall the day of Yom Kippur. This rule of fasting however can be broken for pregnant of nursing women, children under 13, or people with serious medical conditions. People are to refrain from eating and drinking anything even water. Though most Jewish holidays call for a big feast this one requires you to have a big feast before the fasting begins and after the prayer at the end of the holiday. They are also to refrain from bathing, putting on cosmetics and deodorant, wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual activities. There is also to be absolutely no working on this day.
On Yom Kippur much of the day is spent in a Synagogue, which is a Jewish place of worship just like a Church is to Christians. They spend their time here praying and worshiping for most of the day. Services begin usually around 8 or 9 in the morning and continue till 9 or 10 at night, with a break to go home and rest some time during the day. When coming to the Synagogue you are to wear only white to symbolize the purity of the soul and that you are try to repent your sins.
In the afternoon part of the prayers is an important vow that one is to make to God. This vow could be to pray everyday for a month if you win the big game or go to Synagogue for a year if you get that promotion you want. many people view these views as extreme because the Jewish people are very diligent to uphold their vows, since it is their world to God.
Another important thing practiced on Yom Kippur is confession. During confession everything is confessed in the plural, emphasizing the importance of a community in Jewish communities. There are two lists of confessions made, a shorter one called Ashamnu and a longer one called Al Cheit. The shorter one is to confess general things such as we have aggressive, we have been intolerant, and so on. The longer one, Al Cheit, is a more specific list such as we have sinned before you by eating pork or lying at work, and so on.
Yom Kippur is concluded by shutting the cabinet in the Synagogue in which the scrolls that the Torah are kept on. During this last service, which usually lasts about an hour, everyone must stand because the cabinet doors are open exposing the scrolls of the Torah. This last service is known as sort of a last call to get a good word in on the holiday. This service and the Yom Kippur holiday is ended by a blow on the Shofar, a religious horn. Then people have to start preparing for the next Jewish holiday, Sukkot, which occurs five days later.
Associated Content – Anne Hart