Known as The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur marks the end of Rosh Hashanah, and is the most sacred and solemn of all Jewish festivals. It is on this day that Jews believe God makes His final decisions about what the coming year will bring for each and every person. The Book of Life is closed and sealed and Jews who have properly repented of their sins will be rewarded accordingly by God. As Yom Kippur is the only day of the year when there are five different services, Jews spend much of the festival in the synagogue. Other Yom Kippur observances include fasting and abstaining from sex, washing and perfuming oneself and wearing leather shoes.
The five services of Yom Kippur:
- The Kol Nodrei service (evening) – Includes the reading of the Kol Nidrei prayer and act of vidui (confessing of one’s sins). Prayer shawls are not usually worn for evening services, but Jewish men wear them to the Kol Nodrei service in honour of the special occasion.
- The Shacharit service (morning) – Includes morning prayers, the Shema, the Amidah prayer, reading of the Torah, and the Yizkor
- The Musaf service – Takes place immediately after the Shacharit service. It includes Musaf Amidah, the cantor’s repetition of the Amidah, the Avodah and the priestly blessing.
- The Afternoon service – Includes Torah readings, the Amidah prayer, the cantor’s repetition of the Amidah, and the recital of Avino Malkenu.
- The Neilah service (closing) – Brings Yom Kippur to an end as God’s judgement is finally sealed and the congregation beseech God to hear the prayers of the community. Everyone stands for the duration of the service as the doors of the Ark are open. At the end of this final service, the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) is sounded one final time.
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