A day of strict abstinence

A day of strict abstinence

Yom Kippur in Jerusalem © Sebi Berens (KNA)

Jews in Israel and around the world observe the highest holiday this Wednesday, the Day of Atonement "Yom Kippur". According to the Jewish calendar, the holiday and day of strict abstinence begins the night before – that is, this Tuesday evening.

On Yom Kippur, public life in Israel, including air travel, comes to a complete standstill. Increased security precautions apply for the holiday, checkpoints to the Palestinian Territories as well as to the Gaza Strip remain closed except for humanitarian emergencies.

Public life comes to a standstill

The Day of Atonement begins with sunset the night before. There are no radio or television programs, and the airport is closed on Yom Kippur.

"Yom Kippur" has been the highest holiday in Judaism since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. It is observed by the majority of Jews, including non-religious ones. In addition to food and drink, sexual contact, personal hygiene and luxury items such as leather shoes are prohibited on Yom Kippur.

White clothing

On the Day of Atonement, people dress in white. Before nightfall, worshippers gather in synagogues to say the Kol Nidre prayer – the formulaic recantation of all personal vows, oaths and promises to God made unwittingly or thoughtlessly.

In order to receive forgiveness for sins committed against God, all interpersonal transgressions must be cleared up before Yom Kippur. Already the ten days preceding the holiday are therefore marked by penance and fasting. According to the Talmud, this is the time when atonement can be made for sins of the year through repentance and conversion, and thus the judgment on the entry in the Book of Life can be positively influenced.

The Day of Atonement concludes with the prayer of "Ne'ila," which is a final appeal to God's mercy before the gates of heaven close. With the passing of Yom Kippur, preparations begin for the upcoming eight-day Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

Moveable feast

Because the date is calculated according to the rhythm of the moon, it is a movable feast. The festival falls on 10. Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. Tishri is the month in which the influential Rabbi Eliezer (90-130 n. Chr.) the world and the first man were created. In addition to the Day of Atonement and Sukkot, the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Feast of the Joy of the Torah (Simchat Torah) fall in the festive month of.

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