Erev Yom Kippur is the day before Yom Kippur. The day is commemorated with a festive meal, giving of charity, and visiting others to seek or give forgiveness.
Beginning at sunset on Tishri 9 and lasting until three stars appear after Tishri 10, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The observance is also known as the “Day of Atonement,” since the events of Yom Kippur focus on asking and granting forgiveness for one’s transgressions. Yom Kippur falls at the end of the Ten Days of Penitence, which begin with Rosh Hashanah.
Yom Kippur Services
A departure from the standard weekly Shabbat services held on Friday night and Saturday morning, the High Holy Day services are unique in many ways. We use a special prayer book for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah services. This prayer book contains the specific prayers of the High Holidays and further sets this time apart as especially sacred.
On Yom Kippur the following services are observed:
Kol Nidre – Evening service that marks the beginning of Yom Kippur.
Shacharit – Early morning service with Torah reading.
Yizkor – A prayer for loved ones lost.
Musaf – A second morning service with Torah reading.
Mincha – Afternoon service with Torah reading and a reading from the Book of Jonah.
Neilah – Final service.
Kol Nidre, begins just prior to sunset, when the sun is still on the horizon. Translated as “all vows,” the Kol Nidre service begins with the cantor and the congregation stating the Kol Nidre prayer three times.
Confession is an integral part of Yom Kippur services. There are two types of confession to help us consider our transgressions. The first is our sins against our fellow human beings, which cannot be forgiven by anyone other than those we have sinned against.
The second, are our sins against G-d. We acknowledge and recite these sins in plural form (“We are guilty of ‘X’…”), so that the individual and the community can repent and seek forgiveness together. Prayers of remorse and penitence are also recited at the first service and throughout the observance of Yom Kippur.
Prayer continues throughout the day. Following Shacharit and prior to Musaf, mourners recite a special memorial prayer, Yizkor (“May God Remember”).
The gates (of heaven) are “opened” at the onset of Rosh Hashanah, opening the communication of man’s sins to God. The celebration of Yom Kippur ends with Neilah, which means “closing the gate.” The Ark remains open during this entire service, indicating that the gates of heaven are open to these final prayers. Because the Ark stays open, it is customary for the congregation to remain standing throughout Neilah. At this time, we make our final plea for forgiveness, asking that God seal our names in the “Book of Life,” bringing us the promise of a good new year.
The shofar is blown to signify the conclusion of the Neilah service and the end of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Tuesday, October 8th
Yom Kippur Day
Wednesday, October 9th
(Yizkor @ noon)
Forum on Forgiveness
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