Yom Kippur is one of the most important, if not the most important, Jewish holidays of the year. Known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur comes after the 10 Days of Awe, which is the period that begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur. During the Days of Awe, Jews reflect on the year that's passed and make amends for any wrongdoings they've committed.
Each year, the holiday falls on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei. This year, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on September 27.
A major aspect of Yom Kippur is the process of confessing and atoning for your sins of the past year. The process of doing this is called teshuva, which means "to turn" in Hebrew. "We turn inward to see where we have missed the mark; we turn outward to dear family and friends, offering them words of remorse and reconciliation; and we turn away from bad habits and try to make better, healthier choices," writes Rabbi Sara Y. Sapadin.
The key ideals during Yom Kippur are repentance, reflection, and renewal. One way in which Jews practice these ideals is through fasting. Fasting on Yom Kippur is a mitzvah, or commandment. Jews begin fasting on erev Yom Kippur, or just before sunset on Yom Kippur, and end after night falls the next day. The idea behind the fast is that nothing shall pass your lips but prayer and your apologies for the wrongdoings you have committed during the past year.
On Yom Kippur, Jews attend synagogue services to celebrate the holiday with their communities. Often Jews attend an evening service called Kol Nidre as Yom Kippur begins, and many spend the entire next day in services and in prayer. The shofar, a horn, is blown during the services, and songs are sung by the congregation.
The customary greeting is "L’Shana tova tikateivu," which is a wish for a happy year to come and that your life may be inscribed in the Book of Life.
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