ST. LOUIS — Jews from across the world will soon be observing Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.
Here’s everything you need to know about the holiday.
What is Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah. On this sacred day, God decides each person’s fate, according to tradition. Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for sins from the past year.
The holiday is observed with a 25-hour fast and a special religious service, according to History.com. Both Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are known as Judaism’s “High Holy Days.”
According to tradition, “God judges all creatures during the 10 days of Awe” and decides whether they will live or die in the coming year. God "inscribes the names of the righteous in the book of life” and "condemns the wicked to death on Rosh Hashanah."
Observing Yom Kippur
Jews who observe the holiday use it as a time for prayer, doing good deeds, looking back on past mistakes and making amends.
During Yom Kippur, work is prohibited. Jews will participate in religious services, which cause synagogue attendance to soar, History.com stated.
According to the Torah, all Jewish adults must abstain from eating and drinking between sundown on the evening before Yom Kippur and nightfall the next day. Those who are sick, the elderly and women who have just given birth are exempt from taking part in the fast.
The fast is believed to “cleanse the body and spirit, not to serve as punishment.” Some religious Jews also refrain from bathing, washing, using cosmetics, wearing leather shoes and sexual relations, according to History.com.
As with Rosh Hashanah, rabbis and their congregations read from a special prayer book called the machzor. The blowing of the shofar – a ram’s horn – is also performed during Yom Kippur. A long blast is sounded at the end of the final service to mark the end of the fast.
When is Yom Kippur?
This year, Yom Kippur begins on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 4 and ends on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 5.
Customs of Yom Kippur
Pre-Yom Kippur feast – Families and friends gather for a feast. The idea is to have enough strength to last through the 25-hour fast.
Breaking the fast – After the final service, people return home for a meal. It usually consists of comfort foods like blintzes, noodle pudding and baked goods.
Wearing white – White is a symbol of purity, according to History.com. Some married men wear kittels – white burial shrouds – to signify repentance.
Charity – Some Jews make donations or volunteer on the days leading up to Yom Kippur. “This is seen as a way to atone and seek God’s forgiveness.”