Yom Kippur, which is celebrated on the 10th day of Tishri (7th month of the Jewish calendar), is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Also known as ‘Day of Atonement,’ Yom Kippur is when Jews pray and reflect on their spirituality. Jews believe that each person’s fate for the coming year is recorded into a ‘book’ during Rosh Hashanah and is sealed at the end of Yom Kippur.
Jews observe Yom Kippur with rituals and prayer services in synagogues. A prayer known as Kol Nidre is recited before sunset. This is followed with evening prayers. It is part of Jewish custom to wear white during Yom Kippur as it symbolizes purity before the eyes of God. Men wear their tallits (prayer shawls). The eve of Yom Kippur is said to be the best time to confess to God and ask for forgiveness. It is also believed that in order for God to forgive sins, we must make amends with people we have wronged.
During Yom Kippur, Jews are refrained from working, eating, drinking and having sexual intercourse. Many Orthodox Jews observe the Talmudic laws which include refraining from wearing leather shoes, anointing and bathing. Fasting is a requirement during Yom Kippur except for those with increased health risks.
The concluding service known as Ne’ila lasts for about an hour. This is believed to be the last chance to reconcile with God before the ‘gates of prayers’ close. The observance is concluded with the blowing of the shofar.