Friday, October 7, 2011

The Holiest Day of the Year for Jews: Yom Kippur

For Jews this Sabbath, beginning Friday, October 7 at sundown and Saturday October 8, is a special one, as this is the holiday of Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the Holiest Day of the year for Jews.  This is the Day of Atonement, where Jews fast and intensively pray to God. We acknowledge our wrong doings and broken committments to God and ask for his forgiveness. We commit to being a better person in the year ahead.

On Yom Kippur, before the regular evening Sabbath service,  the congregation gathers in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and all of the Torah scrolls are removed. They are usually dressed in white covers [as opposed to other colors for most days]. Leaders of the congregation are given the honor of holding the scrolls.  Then along with the cantor they recite:

"In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God — praised be He — and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors."

The cantor then chants [sings] the passage beginning with the words Kol Nidre with its touching melodic phrases. The cantor singing of the Kol Nidre is very beautiful and moving.

When the Torah scrolls are replaced in the Ark, the regular evening service begins.
The evening services of Yom Kippur are referred to as the Kol Nidre services.

The day of Yom Kippur will have morning services and throughout the day. As sunset approaches Yom Kippur comes to an end with a recitation of Shema Yisrael and the blowing of the shofar, which marks the conclusion of the fast.
Here is a beautiful singing of the Kol Nidre by Perry Como.

Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or "Days of Awe".

Yom Kippur occurs ten days after Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

This day, the holiest and most solemn in Judaism, is also among the most joyous, as it affords one the opportunity to rectify past wrongs and face the future with a slate wiped clean.

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