Yom Kippur – Wed, September 26, 2012

A Celebration of Women

sends our blessings to all the Women of our World and families that are celebrating the High Holiday of YOM KIPPUR. 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/or attend synagogue. services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri.



YOM KIPPUR – Wed, September 26, 2012




Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpur]), also known as the Day of Atonement, is one of the holiest days of the year for the Jewish people. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish practitioners traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days (or sometimes “the Days of Awe”).



Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict.



During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against other human beings (bein adam lechavero).



The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one’s self absolved by God.

The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. Unlike a regular day, which has three prayer services (Ma’ariv, the evening prayer; Shacharit, the morning prayer; and Mincha, the afternoon prayer), or a Shabbat or Yom Tov, which have four prayer services (Ma’ariv; Shacharit; Musaf, the additional prayer; and Mincha), Yom Kippur has five prayer services (Ma’ariv; Shacharit; Musaf; Mincha; and Ne’ilah, the closing prayer). The prayer services also include a public confession of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews attend synagogue on Yom Kippur—for many secular Jews the High Holidays are the only recurring times of the year in which they attend synagogue,—causing synagogue attendance to soar, and almost two-thirds fast.


Eve – Kol Nidre

Before sunset on Yom Kippur eve, worshippers gather in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and two people take from it two Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls).


Then they take their places, one on each side of the cantor, and the three recite:

In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God—praised be He—and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors.

The cantor then chants the Kol Nidre prayer (Hebrew: כל נדרי) in Aramaic, not Hebrew.

Its name is taken from the opening words, meaning “All vows”:

All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.

The leader and the congregation then say together three times…

“May all the people of Israel be forgiven,

including all the strangers who live in their midst,

for all the people are in fault.”

The Torah scrolls are then replaced, and the Yom Kippur evening service begins.


Prayer services

Many married men wear a kittel, a white robe-like garment for evening prayers on Yom Kippur, otherwise used by males on their wedding day.



They also wear a tallit (prayer shawl), which is typically worn on Shabbat and other holidays during morning services.


Prayer services begin with the Kol Nidre prayer, which must be recited before sunset, and continue with the evening prayers (Ma’ariv or Arvith), which includes an extended Selichot service.

Selichot Prayers in Hebrew. LINK: http://www.chabad.org/media/pdf/56/JODh562118.pdf

The morning prayer service is preceded by litanies and petitions of forgiveness called selichot; on Yom Kippur, many selichot are woven into the liturgy of the mahzor (prayer book). The morning prayers are followed by an added prayer (Musaf) as on all other holidays. This is followed by Mincha (the afternoon prayer) which includes a reading (Haftarah) of the entire Book of Jonah, which has as its theme the story of God’s willingness to forgive those who repent.

The service concludes with the Ne’ila (“closing”) prayer, which begins shortly before sunset, when the “gates of prayer” will be closed. Yom Kippur comes to an end with a recitation of Shema Yisrael and the blowing of the shofar, which marks the conclusion of the fast.


Avodah: Remembering the Temple Service

A recitation of the sacrificial service of the Temple in Jerusalem traditionally features prominently in both the liturgy and the religious thought of the holiday. Specifically, the Avodah (“service”) in the musaf prayer recounts in great detail the sacrificial ceremonies of the Yom Kippur Korbananot (sacrificial offerings) that are recited in the prayers but have not been performed for 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans.

This traditional prominence is rooted in the Babylonian Talmud’s description of how to attain atonement following the destruction of the Temple. According to Talmud tractate Yoma, in the absence of a Temple, Jews are obligated to study the High Priest’s ritual on Yom Kippur, and this study helps achieve atonement for those who are unable to benefit from its actual performance. In Orthodox Judaism, accordingly, studying the Temple ritual on Yom Kippur represents a positive rabbinically ordained obligation which Jews seeking atonement are required to fulfill.

In Orthodox synagogues, most Conservative, and some progressive a detailed description of the Temple ritual is recited on the day. In most Orthodox and some Conservative synagogues, the entire congregation prostrates themselves at each point in the recitation where the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) would pronounce the Tetragrammaton (God’s holiest name, according to Judaism).


The main section of the Avodah is a threefold recitation of the High Priest’s ations regarding expiation in the Holy of Holies. Performing the sacrificial acts and reciting Leviticus 16:30, (“Your upright children”). (These three times, plus in some congregations the Aleinu prayer during the Musaf Amidah on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, are the only times in Jewish services when Jews engage in prostration, with the exception of some Yemenite Jews and talmedhei haRambam (disciples of Maimonides) who may prostrate themselves on other occasions during the year). A variety of liturgical poems are added, including a poem recounting the radiance of the countenance of the Kohen Gadol after exiting the Holy of Holies, traditionally believed to emit palpable light in a manner echoing the Torah’s account of the countenance of Moses after descending from Mount Sinai, as well as prayers for the speedy rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of sacrificial worship. There are a variety of other customs, such as hand gestures to mime the sprinkling of blood (one sprinkling upwards and seven downwards per set of eight).

Orthodox liturgies include prayers lamenting the inability to perform the Temple service and petitioning for its restoration, which Conservative synagogues generally omit. In some Conservative synagogues, only the Hazzan (cantor) engages in full prostration. Some Conservative synagogues abridge the recitation of the Avodah service to varying degrees, and some omit it entirely. Many Reform and Reconstructionist services omit the entire service as inconsistent with modern sensibilities.



Dates of Yom Kippur

  • Sat, September 18, 2010 (Hebrew calendar: Tishrei 10, 5771)
  • Sat, October 8, 2011
  • Wed, September 26, 2012
  • Sat, September 14, 2013
  • Sat, October 4, 2014
  • Wed, September 23, 2015

Note: Yom Kippur actually begins at sundown of the previous day (e.g. Sept. 17, 2010)



The Ceremony – called Kapparot –

Kippur‘ comes from a root that means to cover or hide; a secondary meaning is to obliterate (sin) and hence to expiate. Some say there is a link to ‘kapporet’, the “mercy seat” or covering of the Ark of the Covenant. Abraham Ibn Ezra holds that the word indicates the task and not just the shape of the ark cover – since the blood of the Yom Kippur sacrifice was sprinkled in its direction (Lev. 16), it was the symbol of propitiation.

Another widely recognized interpretation of the meaning of Yom Kippur is that it may be translated literally as “day similar to the drawing of a lot”. “Yom” is the Hebrew word for “Day”. As for the translation of “Kippur”, it may be noted that Hebrew letters that spell the word “Kippur” include the letter Kaf as a prefix to the the word “Pur”. In Hebrew, when the letter Kaf is used as a prefix, it gives a meaning of being “like” or “similar to” the word it modifies. The meaning of the word “Pur” is clear: it means a “lot”, as in the drawing of lots. (The Jewish holiday of Purim, recounting the punishment of Haman for his wickedness in trying to eradicate Judaism, is named for the drawing of lots or “Purim” that were used to choose the day Mordecai was to be punished for not bowing to Haman – “Purim” is the plural of “Pur” and means “lots”.) Hence, Yom Kippur may be literally translated as referring to the day the lot being drawn. Indeed, as referenced above, Yom Kippur is the day when God finalizes His Rosh Hashana decisions about who shall live and who shall die, and who shall suffer misfortune and who shall prosper, in the year to come.


Torah Readings for 5771: http://www.jewishsearch.com/article_5591.html



A Celebration of Women

sends our blessings to all the Women of our World

celebrating Yom Kippur.


“G’mar Chatima Tovah”…!”



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