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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest days of the year!

What does Yom Kippur mean?

It means "Day of Atonement." It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone forthe sins of the past year.

In Days of Awe, the "books" in which G-d inscribes all of our names. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in G-d books, where all our names are inscribed, is sealed.
This day is, essentially, your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the year. It is a time for introspection, self-correction, prayer, and teshuvah (repentance).

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and attend synagogue services on this day.

When is Yom Kippur?

Yom kippur is on 10th day of Tishri. This year Yom Kippur falls on October 2 by Gregorian calendar.
Please note that all Jewish holidays begin at sundown of a day before the date specified here.

What are the customs of Yom Kippur?

Kaparot

Yom Kipur - kapara customIt is an ancient custom to perform Kaparot before Yom Kippur. The preferred time for Karaot is just after dawn on the day before Yom Kippur.
This ritual is meant to symbolically express our recognition that we have sinned and are no longer deserving of life. By killing the chicken we are stating that, in truth, this should be our fate but that G-d has given us the opportunity to return to Him through teshuva and Yom Kippur.

The Kaparot ritual involves taking a chicken in your right hand and revolving it over your head while reciting a prayer.

The chicken is then slaughtered and it is given to the poor. One can use money instead of chichken in this ritual, in this case money goes to the charity.

Seeking forgivness

It is customary to seek out the forgiveness of anyone whom you may have sinned against before Yom Kippur begins.

To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

The fast

The Yom Kippur fast is the strictest of the entire year.
It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath

Yom Kippur - no work can be performed on that day.

More on restrictions Yom Kippur

The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: washing and bathing, anointing one's body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

White garments

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. Some people wear white tunic-like garment called a kittel, during the prayers of Yom Kippur. The white kittel is reminiscent of the angels and symbolises purity. Furthermore, the kittel resembles burial shrouds and thus reminds us that we will die someday and thus humbles us to do teshuva. For these reasons, it is also customary to wear white garments on Yom Kippur.

Prayer

The day of Yom Kippur is devoted entirely to prayer, most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue. While concentration on one's prayers and their meaning is important throughout the year, on Yom Kippur it carries even more significance.

The order of the services on this Festival are as follows:

Kol Nidrei - "All vows"

The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. "Kol nidre" means "all vows," and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows made between yourself and G-d, and not between yourself and other people.

Shacharit - Morning Service

This is quite a long service and involves many prayers of Confession (Viduee). During this part of the day we also read from the Torah. Just before Mussaf we say a special prayer called Yizkor, "Remembrance," when we remember those close relatives that have passed away during our lifetime, those who have died for this country and for Israel, and a special prayer of thanks for us still being alive and for the relatives who are also still alive.

Mussaf - Additional Service

This prayer will take up to three hours, and usually ends at about 4.30/5pm. It includes many prayers of confession (Viduee) and various occasions where we prostrate ourselves on the floor.

Minchah - Afternoon Service

This prayer is relative short and will only take about an hour. It involves, as with the rest of the services, numerous prayers of confession and remorse and also includes reading from the Torah.

Neilah - "Closure"

The end of the fast is drawing near and the heaven doors are about to close. It is our last opportunity to plead and pray to G-d for forgiveness and asking Him to inscribe us in the Book of Life for the coming year. The Ark remains open throughout this part of the service, and the shofar is blown at its termination and the termination of the fast.

After all that we go home and relax with a cup of tea and a usually a piece of fish and rice.

*The picture is provided by Michael Goldenberg. All rights reserved!

All about Yom Kippur

By Lisa Katz from www.about.com

What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur, literally "Day of Atonement," is the holiest day of the Jewish year.

When was the first Yom Kippur?

After the Israelites alienated God by worshipping the golden calf, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to ask God for forgiveness. While Moses was on the mountain, the Israelites repented by fasting. On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (Yom Kippur), Moses descended Mount Sinai with the second Tablets . Thus, on the first Yom Kippur (approximately 3,500 years ago), the Israelites succeeded to atone for their sins and renegotiate their covenant with God.

Yom Kippur in the Holy Temple

At the time of the Temple , the high priest ( Kohen HaGadol ) performed a ritual of atonement for all the children of Israel on Yom Kippur.

 It was the only time that the high priest entered the Temple 's " Holy of Holies ." Leviticus (chapter 16) describes this ritual in detail.

How is Yom Kippur Observed Today?

Yom Kippur is a day of "self-denial" (Lev. 23-27) with the goal of cleansing oneself of sins. Repentance (teshuva) is the theme of Yom Kippur. The 25-hour Yom Kippur Fast is the only fast day decreed in the Bible. Prayer services on Yom Kippur are lengthy and solemn. In addition to fasting and praying, many Jews observe other restrictions and customs on Yom Kippur.

Why is Yom Kippur Important?

Yom Kippur is observed eight days after Rosh HaShanah (The Jewish New Year). It is believed that on Rosh HaShana God inscribes all of our names in the "books", and on Yom Kippur the judgment entered in these books is sealed. The days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe. Yom Kippur is, essentially, our last chance to demonstrate repentance and change God's judgment. On Yom Kippur, our fate for the coming year is sealed.

Experience a Healthy Fast

Yom Kippur is the only fast day decreed in the Bible. Abstaining from the pleasure of food is meant to improve one's ability to focus on repentance. The Yom Kippur fast is a 25-hour fast that begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.

Why fast on Yom Kippur?

Spiritual elevation is a pre-requisite for true repentance. One way to achieve spiritual elevation is to abstain from the physical. Five physical activities are forbidden on Yom Kippur:

  1. eating and drinking
  2. marital relations
  3. washing
  4. wearing leather shoes
  5. applying lotions

What are the best ways to prepare for the Yom Kippur fast?

While feeling hunger pains is an acceptable part of the fast experience, one need not dehydrate, faint or get sick while fasting.

There are several ways to prepare oneself physically for a healthy fast.

  • Days before the fast, caffeine intake should be minimized.
  • The day before the fast, eat something small every two hours, avoid caffeine and salt, and drink as much water as possible.
  • Plan the final meal before the fast early enough in the afternoon to avoid rushing to finish before the fast begins.
  • Plan the menu of this final meal so that it contains high carbohydrate and low salt foods.
  • Do not eat too much in the meal before the fast, but drink plenty of water.
  • Leave time after the meal to drink warm water with sugar and brush teeth.

Print this Yom Kippur Fast Prep Sheet to post in the kitchen a few days before Yom Kippur.

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Yom Kippur Fast Prep Sheet

While hunger pains and weakness are an expected effect of the Yom Kippur fast, one need not dehydrate, faint or get sick while fasting. There are several ways to prepare oneself physically for a healthy fast.

Days before the Fast

  • Stop eating foods with high caffeine and sugar content.
  • Begin drinking more water than usual.

Day before the Fast

  • Eat something small every two hours (nosh).
  • Avoid foods with caffeine and salt.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Final Meal before the Fast ( Seudat Mafseket )

  • Plan the final meal before the fast early enough in the afternoon so there is no rush to finish before the fast begins.
  • Plan the menu of this final meal so that it contains high carbohydrate and low salt foods.
  • Do not eat too much in the meal before the fast, but drink plenty of water.
  • Leave time after the meal and before the fast to drink warm water with sugar and brush teeth.

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What food is best to eat before the fast?

According to the Talmud, eating the day before Yom Kippur is a mitzvah equal to the mitzvah of fasting on the day of Yom Kippur. The festive meal before the fast is called Seudah Mafseket ("final meal"). While we do not say kiddush over the wine at this meal, we do bless the challah. Meat is not eaten during this meal, but poultry can be eaten. It is traditional to eat soup, but important to put as little salt and seasoning in the soup as possible. The boiled turkey or chicken from the soup can be served as a healthy pre-fast entree. It is also traditional to serve the soup with kreplach, dough filled with potato, because we hope any strict judgment from God will be covered with kindness.

What food is best to eat after the fast?

Most people break the fast with dairy food. In my synagogue in Israel we break the fast together with cakes and tea. In the Diaspora, family and friends often break fast together at someone's home. Bagels with cream cheese and lox is a popular break fast menu. Coffee cake is often served also.


 

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