For the Jewish people, Yom Kippur is one of the most revered and practiced holidays in the Jewish religious calendar. Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement”, is a holy day that starts exactly 10 days after the Jewish New Year, more popularly called Rosh Hashanah. It is during this holiday that all Jews around the world retreat for a time of prayer, forgiveness, and penance. If you are new to the faith and want to observe Yom Kippur properly, you will need to know several things.
- Get some time off. To properly observe Yom Kippur, take a couple of days off from work or school. You should be free the day before Yom Kippur and on the day itself. There will be some practices and rituals you will have to engage in during these days and working the day before can add more stress. Yom Kippur is a non-working holiday for Jews. With this in mind, take at least 2 days off.
- Sacrifice by fasting. Fasting or not eating is one of the important rituals all Jews practice. Fasting starts at sundown the night before Yom Kippur. Fasting ends after nightfall on Yom Kippur. During this time, you are prohibited to take any kind of food. Even water is not allowed. Fasting is a symbol of penance and sacrifice for all the people you have wronged. It is a symbol of dedication and devotion to God as well. Pregnant women nearing their due dates are exempted from this practice.
- Go to temple for the Kol Nidre. All Jews must go to temple at sundown the night before Yom Kippur for the Kol Nidre service. This is a service to formally welcome the Yom Kippur holiday. It signifies the start of all the rituals accompanying the holiday.
- Reflect on your life. During your fast, it is important to reflect on everything you have done and take note of all the wrongs you have done against your fellow man and God. At the same time, you should let go of all the anger you have for people who have wronged you.
- Ask for forgiveness. Yom Kippur is a day for forgiveness and repentance. On this day, you should go to every person you hurt or wronged in the past and make amends by apologizing and asking for forgiveness. This is the very essence of Yom Kippur.
- Go to temple on Yom Kippur. During and the day before Yom Kippur, there are thousands of synagogues that will be having services. Check out your local synagogues for the schedule. On Yom Kippur, make sure to attend the service. This is a prayer service devoted to God. On this day, no business or work should be discussed. It is all about praying to God and forgiveness to others.
Yom Kippur is an important day for the Jewish religion. As a Jew, it is a day where you should feel God in you and ask for forgiveness for all the sins and transgressions your have committed in the past. It is a day of renewal and rejuvenation.