You Kippur / Yom Kippor A holy day observed on the tenth
day of Tishri and marked by fasting and prayer for the atonement of
sins. Also called Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [יום
הכיפורים), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the
year for the Jewish people. Its central themes are atonement and
repentance. Jewish people 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 Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe").
Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei and also regarded as
the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”. 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 Jewish person 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 hopes that
they have been forgiven 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; Mussaf, 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 private and public confessions 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 Holy Days are the only recurring times of the year in which they
attend synagogue—causing synagogue attendance to soar.