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Yom Kippur

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

Yom Kippur: Glossary

Al Chet - A confessional prayer during which Jews softly beat their chests for each of the ethical sins committed.

Avodah - This prayer describes what the High Priest would do on Yom Kippur in the Beit Hamikdash, the holy temple, in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.

Avinu Malkeinu - "Our Father, Our King," a prayer of repentance.

Beit Hamikdash - The holy temple in Jerusalem, destroyed in 70 A.D.

Havdalah - The short service done at home that concludes Shabbat and holidays. It is done using a cup of wine, and after Shabbat includes a multi-wicked candle, and sweet-smelling spices.

Kaparot - A custom of swinging a chicken or money over the head, asking God to take the chicken or money in place of the sinner.

Kol Nidrei - A prayer that absolves Jews of any religious vows made for the coming year. This prayer was written centuries ago to absolve Jews of forced vows to practice other religions.

Maariv - Evening service.

Mincha - Afternoon service.

Mikvah - A Jewish ritual bath.

Ne'ilah - The concluding service on Yom Kippur. Ne'ilah means closing up and sealing. The prayers have been heard, and God seals everyone's fate for the coming year.

Rosh Hashanah - The Jewish New Year.

Seudah Mafseket - A festive meal eaten before the fast of Yom Kippur begins.

Shema - Prayer affirming God's oneness.

Ten Days of Repentance - The days that fall from the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and run through Yom Kippur.

Teshuva - Usually defined as repentance; literally means turning.

Torah - The first five books of the Old Testament, the Jewish bible.

Tzedakah - Charity given to the needy or the poor.

Viddui - Group confession of sins.

Yahrtzheit - The anniversary of the Hebrew date of someone's death. A Yahrtzheit candle is lit and burns for 24 hours.

Yizkor - The Jewish memorial prayer for lost loved ones, recited on Yom Kippur, Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Passover, and on Shavuot.

Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement.

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