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The Significance of Yom Kippur


The significance of Yom Kippur is that it means "Day of Atonement," and it refers to asking forgiveness for ways in which we have missed the mark in the past year.

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Origins of the Day of Atonement


The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is one of the most ancient Jewish holidays on the Hebrew calendar. It is mentioned in the Torah, in Leviticus 23:27, specifically described as a day abstaining from work and atoning for misdeeds.

Your Guide to Yom Kippur Prayers


By: Alice Langholt Each Yom Kippur prayer is special for reflecting the solemn themes of the holiday. Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement," is the second of the two holiest holidays on the Jewish calendar and falls ten days after the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Each Yom Kippur prayer is meant to help the individual be introspective and reflective, and the prayers let them contemplate the themes of repentance and forgiveness. After Yom Kippur ends, the individual gets a clean slate and is ready to have a better year than last year. Here are some of the significant prayers of Yom Kippur and their messages. Kol Nidre This beautifully chanted poem is sung to a moving melody on the eve of Yom Kippur, when it begins. Jewish holidays begin and end at sundown. Kol Nidre is the first prayer of Yom Kippur. It originates as early as the ninth century. The content is a prayer that all unfulfilled promises that were made during the past year be now nullified. It doesn't mean that they are no longer important, but forgives us for unfulfilled yet sincere intentions. It is sung three times, while the congregation is standing. The Shema The Shema is the central statement of Jewish belief. The content says that we believe in One God. The second line "Blessed is the Name of His Glorious Kingdom forever and ever" is usually said softly. On Yom Kippur, this line is said aloud. The reason for this is that the second line is not in the Torah, while the first line is. The second line was said to have been spoken by the angels to Moshe on Mt. Sinai. Special for Yom Kippur, we strive to elevate our lives higher by fasting and repentant prayer, so we speak the line out loud. Avinu Malkeinu This prayer is a plea to God for forgiveness and guidance. Each line begins with "Our Father, our King" addressing God, admitting that we have not done our best, and asking for support in having a better year of life, blessings and health. It is said on fast days and each day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holidays. Viduy This consists of two confessional prayers, Al Cheit and Ashamnu. Al Cheit is a list in acrostic form of sins. The congregation recites the list together, in plural, to illustrate that although no one individual has committed the entire list of sins, as a community we are responsible for each other. Al Cheit asks forgiveness for many wrongdoings, and is listed in categories. Many people give their chest a little thump for each, reminding us that our hearts can guide us to do better. Neilah This is the last set of prayers for Yom Kippur. The theme is asking that our prayers be accepted and that we be forgiven. It is a high point of the holiday; the last few minutes to express sincere repentance and the desire to do better. Some prayers are repeated, such as Avinu Malkeinu. At the end, the Shofar is sounded loudly, and everyone wishes each other a good year by saying "L'Shanah Tovah."

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Major Jewish Holidays


Learn more about the major Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Purim.

An Introduction to the High Holidays: Yom Kippur


In contrast to Rosh Hashanah, a festive and generally upbeat holiday, Yom Kippur is solemn and somber. Jews refer to it as the "Day of Atonement," occuring on the final day of the Ten Days of Repentance.

What is Yom Kippur?


What is Yom Kippur? Yom Kippur translates to "Day of Atonement" and is the most significant holiday of the Jewish calendar.

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