The holiday of
forgiveness and atonement.
▪ When: This year, Yom Kippur begins the evening of Sunday, Oct. 5,
and ends the evening of Monday, Oct. 6.
▪ Why We Celebrate: Yom Kippur is the day of atonement (yom in
Hebrew means "day," and kippur means "atonement"). It is the day we
seek expiation for our sins.
The commandment to observe Yom Kippur is found in the Torah:
Leviticus 16:29, and Numbers 29:7. Further expansion on the holiday is
found in Leviticus 16:30-34, 23:26-32, and Numbers 29:8-11.
▪ Rites And Rituals: The commandment to observe Yom Kippur states
that Jews shall "afflict" themselves. The rabbis interpreted this to mean
five things: no food or drink, no wearing leather shoes, no bathing for
pleasure, no marital relations, no anointing with oils (in ancient times,
people used oil to clean, soften and perfume the skin).
The prohibition against food and drink also includes smoking.
Persons on a regimen of medication should consult with their physician
and rabbi for the proper procedure for taking medicine.
Like all Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur includes extra prayers and a
Torah reading. The prayers of Yom Kippur are the longest of any day in
the year. In many congregations, the recitation of prayers takes up the
better part of the day.
A significant feature of the Yom Kippur liturgy is the Vidui, or confes-
sion. This consists of two parts: Ashamnu ("We have trespassed"), an
alphabetically arranged list of sins, and Al Chet ("For the sin"), a long
inventory of transgressions, accompanied by beating of the breast.
The confession is recited at all of the services on Yom Kippur. Along
with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is the only day we prostrate ourselves
(in a modified form) in prayer, as was done in the days of the Holy
Temple in Jerusalem. The prostration is done during the cantor's repeti-
tion of the Musaf service.
Prostration is performed by kneeling and touching the forehead to the
floor. It is practiced almost exclusively by Orthodox Jews.
Yom Kippur includes two unique prayer services: Kol Nidre, which
begins Yom Kippur and in which we nullify all personal vows for the
coming year, and Neilah, which closes the holiday.
Yom Kippur ends with a blast of the shofar.
• Important Themes: Yom Kippur is considered the day that Cori c
decision He made on Rosh Hashanah regarding the fate of every persoi .
The image created for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur is the Book of Life, in which appears the name of every
human. On Rosh Hashanah, God decides the fate of each person, and
on Yom Kippur, He seals His decision.
Although it is generally said that Yom Kippur (unlike holidays such as
Pesach, Shavuot, Chanukah and Purim) does not commemorate a his-
torical event, traditionally we believe that Yom Kippur is the anniversary
of God's forgiving the Jewish people their first disastrous, national sin:
the infamous episode of the golden calf.
Moses chastised the people, destroyed the tablets of the Torah given by
God and went back up the mountain a second time to pray for God's
forgiveness and to receive new tablets (Exodus 32:30-35).
Moses returned to the encampment, and then ascended the mountain
again (Exodus 34). This is reckoned as the first day of Elul, the month
immediately preceding Rosh Hashanah. Moses prayed for God to grant
the Jewish people complete atonement. After 40 days, God erased the
collective sin of the Jews, and Moses returned to the people on the 10th
of Tishrei, Yom Kippur.
Customs And Traditions: It is traditional on Yom Kippur to wear white
to remind us of our mortality (remember that burial shrouds are white) and
as a symbol of purity, because we hope that God will forgive our sins and
restore us to lives of virtue.
It is customary to greet one another with: Gmar chatimah tovah ("May
your fate be sealed for the good"); some shorten the greeting to Gmar toy.
ose who submitted answers to the "Happy
s e arch that appeared Sept. 12.
'ther Citron, Southfield
Sarah Cwagenberg, Southfield
Sarah Deitch, West Bloomfield
Dorothy Domnitch, Berkley
Betty Dworin, West Bloomfield
Sarah Feuereisen, Oak Park
Elsie Jaffe, Palm Springs, Fla.
Rose Kent, West Bloomfield
Doris Kushner, Southfield
Irene Lusky, West Bloomfield
Rose Morgan, Southfield
Morris Spinner, Novi
Brian Sturman, Midland
Sylvia Waldman, Keego Harbor