Yom Kippur

Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur's Origins

Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement" and refers to the annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer, and repentance. Part of the High Holidays, which also includes Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Yom Kippur is the moment in Jewish time when we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with our fellow human beings, ourselves, and God. As the New Year begins, we commit to self-reflection and inner change. As both seekers and givers of pardon, we turn first to those whom we have wronged, acknowledging our sins and the pain we have caused them. We are also commanded to forgive, to be willing to let go of any resentment we feel towards those who have committed offenses against us. Only then can we turn to God and ask for forgiveness. As we read in the Yom Kippur liturgy, “And for all these, God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.”

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Pomegranate

The URJ Reflection Project

Explore this meaningful new way to welcome the High Holidays.

How to Prepare to Fast on Yom Kippur

Experienced fasters agree that hydrating as much as possible before a fast is vitally important. If you can, start to drink extra water at least two days before the fast begins.

Find Services

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laptop computer, prayerbook, tallis, candles, and flowers on a table

Attend Virtual High Holiday Services

Many congregations offer virtual High Holiday services and programs for non-members. 

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Kol Nidrei

Sounds of Kol Nidrei

The melody that stirs the heart of Ashkenazic Jews is of unknown origin, but is part of a body of music known as "MiSinai melodies" that emerged in Germany between the 11th and 15th centuries.

Chocolate Outs Jews on Yom Kippur

Crypto-Jews living in Mexico in the 17th century, under the surveillance of the Inquisition, developed sticky subterfuges to avoid being outed for their undercover Jewish practices, including those that related to chocolate drinking.

Ways to Prepare

How to Ready Your Young Child for Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur and toddlers don’t seem to go together very well. On the most solemn day of the calendar, it can be difficult to figure out what to do with a young child who isn’t ready to sit in services all day.

Give the gift of tikkun olam

Honor a Jewish hero for justice by making a tax-deductible gift to the Union for Reform Judaism in his or her name. Your gift will provide funding for creative Reform Jewish programming and help ensure the continued growth and strength of Reform Judaism.

What's New

Shards of Glass: A Poem for the New Year

September 24, 2020
Remind my tired soul, I beg You / My kitchen is far too clean and the china is still in the basement / Remind me how to stop the mourning / for tables that don’t need extensions / quiet synagogues with no children to be shushed...

With Wounds Still Open, We Ask: Where is God?

September 23, 2020
I do not believe that God sent us COVID-19, and I do not believe God will cure it. That is for humans to do, using our God-given intellect and ambition to develop the vaccines and treatments that will help stop the spread of this natural virus.