Home > News > To our Jewish friends observing Yom Kippur: G’mar Chatima Tova

To our Jewish friends observing Yom Kippur: G’mar Chatima Tova

September 27, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


Most of us, in the United States, have great respect for Israel and the Jewish people.

As Yom Kippur begins, (sunset on Sept 27th according to Wiki) I want you to know that regardless of how it sometimes seems, most of us stand behind you 100%.

For those of you who do not know anything about Yom Kippur, I have included some information on this holiest of Jewish days.

In Jewish tradition Yom Kippur is ranked as the holiest day of the year. Beginning after the sunset on the ninth day of Rosh Hashanah it is marked by 25 hours of prayer and fasting following the example of God’s angles who do not need to eat or drink but spend all their time praising God. So on this one day Jews try to serve God as though they were angels. They follow the teaching of the Talmud which forbids eating, drinking, washing, sexual intercourse, anointing and wearing leather shoes on this day.


According to tradition, Satan is able to tempt the Jewish people every day of the year except on Yom Kippur. On that day God declares to Satan, "You have no power over them today; nevertheless go and see what they are doing", the story goes that God finds all the Jews of the world dressed as angels and Satan agrees that he has no power over them. God then binds Satan in chains and says to all the Jews "You are forgiven all your sins". To Jewish people then, Yom Kippur is , above all else, a day of forgiveness. (The day of Atonement). So Jews will try to seek forgiveness from all the people that they feel they have wronged in the last year.

  • Yom Kippur is one of the most widely observed holidays on the Jewish calendar.
  • Yom Kippur marks the highest synagogue attendance rate of any other day in the year.
  • To afflict ourselves for our sins, the Talmud requires that we practice "self denial."  Thus, we abstain from eating, drinking, bathing, sexual relations, using bath oils and lotions, etc., and wearing leather shoes.
  • It is traditional to wear white on Yom Kippur as a sign of purity.
  • Yom Kippur, the 10th of Tishrei, is the day that Moses came down from Sinai with the second set of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, to replace the original set that he broke upon witnessing the children of Israel worshipping the Golden Calf.
  • On Yom Kippur, it’s traditional not to wear gold or other jewelry so as not to remind God of the sin of the Golden Calf.
  • Yom Kippur is the only day where a tallit, the four cornered prayer shawl with fringes that symbolize the 613 commandments, is worn in the evening.
  • Kol Nidrei (meaning "our vows"), the service on the eve of Yom Kippur, is a communal supplication asking God to view all vows made under duress as null and void.
  • In Biblical and Rabbinic times, Temple rituals and sacrifices were the focus of the holiday. Among the highlights of the day was the scapegoat ceremony during which lots would be placed on two goats. One goat would be offered as a sacrifice in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies; and the second would be thrown into the wilderness. Once the Temples were destroyed, prayer and return, i.e. repentance, are the focus while the Temple ritual is recounted as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy.
  • Today, in addition to the traditional three prayer services (morning, afternoon, and evening), Yom Kippur includes a special Musaf (additional) service, Yizkor (memorial service), the Avodah service (a symbolic reenactment of the ancient priestly ritual for Yom Kippur), Viddui (the communal confession of sin), and Neiliah (the concluding service).
  • During the afternoon service, we read the story of Jonah and the whale.
  • During the Viddui, the communal confession of sin, it is customary to beat one’s chest.
  • The Neiliah service marks the end of Yom Kippur and concludes with the blowing of the shofar, a sign of redemption.
  • It is said, "On Rosh Hashana, it is written.  On Yom Kippur, it is sealed." Thus, the traditional Yom Kippur salutation is "G’mar Tov" (finish well) or "G’mar Chatima Tova" (may you be sealed in the book of life).
  • Please forgive me if I have any of the information above is incorrect.  I am not an expert, by any means.

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