Yom Kippur

Last updated September 13, 2021

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement and the Sabbath of Sabbaths, is the most solemn of the Jewish Holy Days.

Yom Kippur completes the Jewish Days of Awe and is the conclusion of what is commonly referred to as the High Holy Days. According to Jewish tradition, it is on this day that G-d1 seals each person’s fate in the Book of Life. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many Jews work on mending their behavior and asking for forgiveness, as well as forgiving others.

Yom Kippur is dedicated to introspection, prayer, asking G-d for forgiveness, committing to charitable endeavours, fasting, and abstaining from use of electronic devices. Like Shabbat, no work is to be done on Yom Kippur, from the time the sun sets on the ninth of Tishrei until the stars come out in the evening of the next day.

As this is a solemn High Holy Day that focuses on repentance and self-reflection, it is not customary to wish a happy holiday. You may, however, wish those observing a peaceful and easy fast. Customary greetings include “g’mar chatima tovah,” meaning “may you be sealed in the Book of Life.”

Yom Kippur concludes with a single blast of the shofar, an ancient musical instrument made from animal horn.