Weighed and Judged


Yom Kippur Summary

DateTenth of Tishri

DurationOne day.

NamesTogether with Rosh Hashanah, it is known as Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe); Shabbat Shabbaton (Sabbath of Sabbaths).

Source"On the tenth day of this seventh month is a day of atonement.  It shall be for you a [day of] holy assembly and you shall afflict yourselves..." (VaYikra 23:27)

General ThemeWe abstain from eating, confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness, hoping that we will be sealed in G-d's Book of Life.  We feel responsible to one another and a desire that our fast will lead us to lending a hand to others in distress.

CustomsThe holiday is ushered in by lighting two candles and reciting the following blessing:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner Yom Kippur

Blessed are you, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of Yom Kippur.


This is followed by the recitation of the Shehecheyanu:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam shehecheyanu v'kiymanu v'higianu lazman hazeh

Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.


It is customary to light a Yahrzeit candle, as a memorial to the deceased members of the family, just before leaving for services.

The Rabbi, Cantor, and congregants wear white gowns (Kittels) as in the custom of Rosh Hashanah.

At the evening Yom Kippur service, called Kol Nidre, the tallit (prayer shawl) is worn, symbolizing the added piety of the occasion.

The abstinence on Yom Kippur includes total fasting for adults (except the sick and weak), abstaining from sexual relations, and not wearing leather shoes (out of compassion for animals) or cosmetics.

Memorial services for the dead (Yizkor) are said on Yom Kippur during services.

On Yom Kippur afternoon, at the Minchah service, the entire Sefer Yonah is chanted, reminding us that G-d's forgiveness is universal.

At the end of the Yom Kippur service, a long blast of the Shofar is sounded and the words, "Leshanah habaah biYerushalayim" (Next year in Jerusalem) are proclaimed.

The greeting at the end of Yom Kippur is, "G'mar chatimah tovah" (May you be sealed for a good verdict).