The Jewish Holy Day Yom Kippur begins on Wednesday
Wednesday 8 October 2008
Yom Kippur is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews the world over 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, a Jewish holy day marked by fasting and atoning for sins, begins Wednesday at sundown.
- Torah Scrolls in white
for Yom Kippur
It is the culmination of the High Holy Days - the holiest time in the Jewish calendar - which began 10 days ago with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Yom Kippur is like a dress rehearsal for the day of judgment, said Rabbi Paula Jayne Winnig of Temple Sinai of Long Island in Lawrence.
"You’re as naked and open to meeting God as you would be on the day of your death," Winnig said. "It completely creates more meaning. The day of really saying with your entire body and soul that you mean what you say."
Along with not eating or drinking, observant Jews do not wear leather shoes, bathe or engage in marital relations on Yom Kippur. Many also wear white, the color of purity and of the burial shroud.
Rabbi Mark Greenspan of the Oceanside Jewish Center said the restrictions of the day help bring Jews closer to God.
"The sages define self-denial as doing away with the things we take most for granted in our daily lives so we can completely focus on our relationship with God," he said. "It’s not so much about suffering as it is about showing we have the ability to set aside our physical appetites for one day and really focus on our spirit."
Rabbi Daniel Mehlman of the Lido Beach Synagogue said he plans to stress themes of hope and optimism during his sermon to his congregants, many of whom are concerned about the turbulent economic times.
"I need to just encourage people to do what has to be done and no matter what happens, we do not give up hope for a better tomorrow," Mehlman said. "It’s something we need today so people should not be consumed or inundated by their problems."
Rabbi Howard Buechler of the Dix Hills Jewish Center, a synagogue that has been hit by several times with anti-Semitic vandalism this year, said Yom Kippur will be a time of renewal and healing for his congregation.
"We’re not focusing on things people have done against us," Buechler said. "It’s what we can do to create better community and work on sculpting and crafting our lives to show even more love and more blessings."
source : newsday.com
WHAT IS YOM KIPPUR ?
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjɔm kiˈpur]), also known in English as the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews the world over 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 is the tenth and final day of the Ten Days of Repentance which begin with Rosh Hashanah. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. During the Ten Days of Repentance, a Jew tries to amend his behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam leMakom) and against his fellow man (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 himself 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 reenactment of the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.