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Yom Kippur 2024: Significance, History, Symbols, Activities

One of the most significant holidays in the Jewish calendar is Yom Kippur. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish traditions will abstain from work, fast, and/or attend synagogue services on this day. On the tenth day of Tishri, Yom Kippur takes place.

The day known as “Yom Kippur,” which translates to “Day of Atonement,” is set aside to “afflict the soul” and atone for sins committed in the previous year. God puts all of our names in either the book of life or the book of death during the Days of Awe.

What is Yom Kippur?

The Day of Atonement, often known as Yom Kippur, is regarded as the most significant Jewish festival. It commemorates the end of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of reflection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and occurs in the month of Tishrei (September or October in the Gregorian calendar). Jews are urged to atone and ask forgiveness for crimes committed over the past year since, according to tradition, God determines each person’s fate on Yom Kippur. During the festival, people fast for 25 hours and attend a special religious service. The “High Holy Days” of Judaism are known as Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

Read more: Yom Kippur Greeting: What to Say to Someone

When is Yom Kippur?

In the year 2024, Yom Kippur begins on Friday, October 11, and ends onSaturday, October 12.

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Yom Kippur History

Yom Kippur is a holiday with unknown origins. When the Temple was reconstructed after the Babylonians’ destruction, it was not included in the list of holidays that were to be commemorated. When giving directions to the Jews on how to prepare for Sukkot, Ezra makes no mention of Yom Kippur, and Zecharia leaves it out of the list of fast days they are to observe after coming back from captivity.

The Day of Atonement is mentioned in the Bible in Numbers 29:7–11 and Leviticus 16–34 and 23–26–32, but according to Elon Gilad, these passages were “inserted by priests during the Second Temple period to legitimate new ceremonies established to purify the Temple in advance of” Sukkot. He further suggests that Akitu, a Babylonian celebration that marked the start of the new year and shares many characteristics with the Jewish holiday, may have served as the model for Yom Kippur.

The king only ever went into the temple’s sanctuary on the fifth day of Akitu. Similarly, only on the Day of Atonement would the Israelite high priest be permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant was kept). The Jewish priest would confess the crimes of the Israelites over the head of a live goat, in contrast to the Babylonian king who would tell his god that he had not sinned. Then the animal would be released into the wild (Leviticus 16:21). The name “scapegoat” originated from Jewish and other cultures’ use of this practice.

Yom Kippur is most often linked with fasting, but Jews are not required to abstain from food or drink according to the Bible. You must “afflict your souls,” which is taken to signify fasting because that is how it is used elsewhere.

Yom Kippur Symbols

Wearing white: It is customary for religious Jews to dress in white—a symbol of purity—on Yom Kippur. Some married men wear kittels, which are white burial shrouds, to signify repentance. Charity: Some Jews make donations or volunteer their time in the days leading up to Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur Symbols

Yom Kippur Activities

The holiest day of the year for Jews is Yom Kippur, often known as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” Because of this, even Jews who don’t observe other customs refrain from working on Yom Kippur, which is prohibited during the holiday, and attend religious services instead, driving up synagogue attendance. To accommodate a high number of worshipers, some churches hire additional space.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, friends and family come together for a plentiful meal that must be finished before dusk. The goal is to build up enough energy to fast for 25 hours.

After the last Yom Kippur service, many individuals go home to celebrate by breaking their fast. It typically includes comfort meals that resemble breakfast, like blintzes, noodle pudding, and baked goods.

White clothing is customary among devout Jews on Yom Kippur as a representation of purity. To symbolize remorse, some married men dress in kittles, which are white funeral shrouds.

In the days preceding Yom Kippur, some Jews donate money or give up their time. This is viewed as a means of making amends and requesting God’s pardon. One kapparot practice involves chanting a prayer while swinging a live chicken or a bundle of cash over one’s head. The impoverished are then handed the chicken or the money.

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