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Yom Kippur arrives Tuesday

Local Jewish communities gather at synagogues to ask for forgiveness on Day of Atonement, a high hol

Posted: September 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 22, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Rabbi Howard Siegel, second from left, leads Kol Nidre at Oak Hills Elementary School in Stevenson Ranch on Oct. 7, 2011. (Signal File Photo)

 

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is a Jewish high holiday that completes the period of the high holy days that began with Rosh Hashana one week ago. This year, Yom Kippur begins Tuesday at sundown and ends the following day at sundown.

The holiday, known traditionally as a day to ask for forgiveness, is marked by a 24-hour fast where nothing is consumed and participants often where white or white robes called kittels, to signify purity and humility.

Intense prayer

Despite the many traditions involved in Yom Kippur, many agree that it is a day centered on prayer and forgiveness.

“Yom Kippur is typically a very intense day of prayer and focus,” said Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami. “You are really in prayer every moment of that day.”

Blazer also says that because it follows Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, so closely, it provides Jews with another week and a half to focus on starting the year off right by fasting and spending time in prayer.

Rabbi Choni Marozov of Chabad of SCV says the literal translation of Yom Kippur is “a day of forgiveness.” He explains to his congregation that it is a very spiritual day and a time to ask God for forgiveness for the things done throughout the year.

“It is not a sad day; it is just solemn” Marozov said. “It is a time to reflect on the resolutions for the coming year and take it upon ourselves to change.”

He also emphasizes the holiday was meant as a time to focus on spiritual pursuits and to build relationships. Rabbi Howard Siegel of Congregation Beth Shalom also shared that sentiment.

“The ritual of Yom Kippur is usually celebrated in a synagogue, not at home,” Siegel said. “It is the one day of the year when all attention is focused on community.”

Before God

Many view Yom Kippur as a day to set things right for the failings of the past year. A day to start fresh and concentrate on working to better themselves. Siegel shared that during this day, Jews stand before God, asking for forgiveness for any moral or ethical failings over the past year.

“We are so close to God’s presence on this day,” Siegel said. “We stand before him not as a rich man or a poor man, just as a human being seeking forgiveness and seeking change.”

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