The day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, begins at sunset this evening. For our Sisters and Brothers of the Jewish Faith, it is the holiest day of the year. As the Jewish Learning Page tells us this is the day “when we ask forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed over the past year. Jewish tradition believes that on this day God places a seal upon the divine decrees affecting each person for the coming year. Traditionally, Jews fast on this somber day and also refrain from other bodily pleasures.”
Customary greetings for the day include: “Have an easy fast” or “gmar chatima tova” (may you be inscribed for a good year.) It’s also acceptable to say “shana tova” (happy new year).
A Lovely tradition for the day is the chanting of Kol Nidre “Kol Nidrei means “all vows” and is the name given to the special liturgical formulation chanted by Jews solely on Yom Kippur. It is a legal formula for the annulment of vows, which dates back many centuries. The practice of reciting Kol Nidrei probably began in about the 9th century C.E. Recited in a mix of Hebrew and Aramaic, the vernacular language of the time, Kol Nidrei cancels and annuls all unintended vows made to God during the previous year.”
“Yom Kippur ends with a single, long blast of the shofar. The stirring sound of the shofar at the conclusion of the holiday has many different explanations. One is that the practice recalls the giving of the Torah at Sinai (when the shofar also was blown). Another is that the shofar signals the triumph of Israel over its sins for another year and heralds the possible coming of the messianic age.”