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Yom Kippur

Home > Holidays > Yom Kippur's Guide to Yom Kippur
Erev Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur: FAQ

What is Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish year. This is the day when God judges the Jews and seals their fate for the coming year.

What takes place on Yom Kippur?
Males over 13 and females over 12, adults by the Jewish standard, fast. Services take place throughout the day.

What if I'm ill or need medication, do I still have to fast?
Medications should be taken and food should be eaten with the consultation with a rabbi. In cases of pikuach nefesh, saving a life, there is no need to fast.

What are the main prayers said on Yom Kippur?
The most widely known prayer is Kol Nidrei, which was written to absolve Jews of forced vows to practice other religions. Also recited is the avodah, which describes what the High Priest would follow on Yom Kippur in the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. Other prayers include the viddui, the confession of sins, and ne'ilah, the concluding prayer.

What is prohibited on Yom Kippur?
Prohibitions on Yom Kippur include washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and sexual intercourse. White clothes are worn to symbolize purity. Yom Kippur is also known as Shabbat Shabbaton, the highest of Sabbaths, so anything prohibited on Shabbat is prohibited on Yom Kippur.

What is Kaparot?
For kaparot, a live chicken, or money used as a substitute, is put in a bag and swung around the head as a prayer for redemption is recited, hoping the animal or money will take the place of the person performing the ritual. The chicken is then slaughtered and given away as charity; similarly, any money used is donated to charity.

What is a Seudah Mafseket?
This is the final meal before the Yom Kippur fast. Mild foods are usually eaten to make fasting easier.

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