What is Yom Kippur?
What is Yom Kippur and do people celebrate this holiday?
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year to those that practice the Jewish religion. This holiday focuses on atonement and repentance. The traditional way to observe Yom Kippur is fasting, intense prayer, confession and most of the day in synagogue services.
The day before Yom Kippur
Before the day of fasting begins, they day prior is reserved for special food. There is a custom to request and receive a piece of honey cake and thereby being blessed with a sweet year. Additionally there are two festive meals; one in the early afternoon and the other before the start of the fast. Next, special charity trays are setup at the synagogue before the afternoon services for extra charity giving. Before the fast begins there is a customary blessing to the children then holiday candles are lit.
Other important details
Yom Kippur is a holiday that like Shabbat, is observed from work. This holiday begins the moment the sun sets the evening prior, until you can see the stars in the evening.
What is avoided?
In addition to eating and drinking you may not wear leather shoes, apply lotions or creams, wash or bathe or be physically intimate with your partner.
After the sun sets
Once night has fallen there is more prayer and then song and dance. Finally, there is a festive meal to celebrate the sacrifice everyone has made the 24 hours prior.
According to Chabad.org, only months after the people of Israel left Egypt in 1313 BCE, they sinned by worshipping a golden calf. Then, Moses ascended Mount Sinai and prayed to God to forgive them. This happened after two 40-day periods on the mountain. The day that Moses came down from the mounts (the 10th of Tishrei) was known as Yom Kippur; the Day of Atonement.