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Yom Kippur Evening, Sunday, September 28
Kol Nidrei: 7:00 PM
Sermon & Services: 7:30 PM
Yom Kippur Day, Monday, September 29
Services: 10:00 AM
Yizkor: 12:00 PM
Mincha/Neila: 5:15 PM
Break-fast Buffet: 7:40 PM
Membership and a prior reservation are not required. However, reserving will help us accommodate everyone.
Masks and social distancing protocols will be enforced.
What: Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, when we are closest to G‑d and to the essence of our souls. Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” as the verse states, “For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d."
When: The 10th day of Tishrei (in 2020, from several minutes before sunset on Sunday, September 28, until after nightfall on Monday, September 29), coming on the heels of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
How: For nearly 26 hours we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or apply lotions or creams, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from marital relations. Instead, we spend the day in synagogue, praying for forgiveness.
History of Yom Kippur
Just months after the people of Israel left Egypt in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), they sinned by worshipping a golden calf. Moses ascended Mount Sinai and prayed to G‑d to forgive them. After two 40-day stints on the mountain, full Divine favor was obtained. The day Moses came down the mountain, the 10th of Tishrei, was to be known forevermore as the Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur.
That year, the people built the Tabernacle, a portable home for G‑d. The Tabernacle was a center for prayers and sacrificial offerings. The service in the Tabernacle climaxed on Yom Kippur, when the High Priest would perform a specially prescribed service. While the High Priest generally wore ornate golden clothing, on Yom Kippur, he would immerse in a mikvah and don plain white garments to perform this service.
This practice continued for hundreds of years, throughout the time of the first Temple in Jerusalem, which was built by Solomon, and the second Temple, which was built by Ezra. Jews from all over would gather in the Temple to experience the sacred sight of the High Priest performing his service, obtaining forgiveness for all of Israel.
When the second Temple was destroyed in the year 3830 from creation (70 CE), the Yom Kippur service continued. Instead of a High Priest bringing the sacrifices in Jerusalem, every single Jew performs the Yom Kippur service in the temple of his or her heart.
Preparing for Yom Kippur
Forty days before Yom Kippur, we begin preparing for this auspicious day with introspection and extra prayer. From Rosh Hashanah, our soul searching becomes even deeper and more pronounced. The day before Yom Kippur is no exception.
Just as Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, the day before Yom Kippur is set aside for eating and preparing for this holy day. Here are some of the activities that we do on the day before Yom Kippur:
Kaparot is often performed in the wee hours of this morning.
There is a beautiful custom to request and receive a piece of honey cake, so that if, G‑d forbid, it was decreed that we need be recipients, it is fulfilled by requesting honey cake.
We eat two festive meals, one in the early afternoon and another right before the commencement of the fast.
Many have the custom to immerse in a mikvah on this day.
Extra charity is given. In fact, special charity trays are set up at the synagogue before the afternoon service, which contains the Yom Kippur Al Cheit prayer.
Just before the fast begins (after the second meal has been concluded), it is customary to bless ones children with the Priestly Blessing.
The Holiday is ushered in with candle lighting, much like Shabbat. Similarily, 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.
On Yom Kippur, we avoid the following five actions:
Eating or drinking (in case of need, see here and consult a medical professional and a rabbi)
Wearing leather shoes
Applying lotions or creams
Washing or bathing
Engaging in marital relations
The day is spent in the synagogue, where we hold five prayer services:
Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei service, on the eve of Yom Kippur;
Shacharit, the morning prayer, which includes a reading from Leviticus followed by the Yizkor memorial service;
Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service;
Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah;
Neilah, the “closing of the gates” service at sunset, followed by the shofar blast marking the end of the fast.
Beyond specific actions, Yom Kippur is dedicated to introspection, prayer and asking G‑d for forgiveness. Even during the breaks between services, it is appropriate to recite Psalms at every available moment.
After night has fallen, and the Havdalah is recited, we partake of a festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a yom tov (festival) in its own right.
Indeed, although Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the year, it is suffused with an undercurrent of joy; it is the joy of being immersed in the spirituality of the day and expresses confidence that G‑d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness.
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