What is Yom Kippur? How to celebrate it

By Robbie Purves

The holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur sees the highest attendances in synagogues across the globe and is still observed by many non-practicing Jews.

Lasting 25 hours, the day forbids those who follow Judaism from working, going to school and must abstain from any physical pleasures.

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement, a day when Jews atone for personal sins and the fate of each person is sealed for the upcoming year.

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With the fortune of the coming year at stake, there is no wonder the date is of huge significance.

When is Yom Kippur?

The date for the holy day changes every year in the Gregorian calendar used in the West, but for Jews who follow Hebrew calendar, it remains the same.

Yom Kippur falls on the 10th day of a month called Tishrei, which is nine days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah - which is the celebration of the world's creation.

There is 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and these are called 'The Days of Repentance'.

During the gap in festivities, Jews try and improve their behaviour often by giving to charity, asking for forgiveness from people they have wronged and putting right other wrongs they feel they committed.

How to celebrate Yom Kippur

Jewish people often mark the day by fasting 25 hours, wearing white as a mark of purity, refraining from wearing make-up and perfume.

The most important part of Yom Kippur is attendance at a synagogue, with many Jews who do not visit their place of worship very often, in attendance.

Yom Kippur can often be spent in almost continuous prayer, with five services held at synagogues - all of them featuring public confessions of sins.

'Ne'ilah' is the final service of the day, held in the evening and marks the end of the fast.

What is the story of Yom Kippur?

According to tale, following the Israelite's Exodus from Egypt, they arrived at Mount Sinai where Moses then climbed to the top.

God gave him two tablets with the Ten Commandments on them, one of them told followers not to worship anyone other than God.

When Moses walked down the mountain, he found the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. Moses was so angry he shattered the tablets on the floor.

Luckily, God forgave them after the Israelites atoned for their sin and gave Moses a second set of tablets.

From then on, Jews have observed the sacred event and asked for forgiveness.

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