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How to Fast on Yom Kippur

Giving up food and drink is an important part of this Jewish holiday, the Day of Atonement, because it helps focus the mind on repentance. Stay strong mentally and physically with these tips.


  • Step 1: Know the rules Know the rules: You are not allowed to eat or drink for 25 hours, beginning at sunset and ending one hour after sunset the next day. Boys under age 13, and girls under age 12, pregnant and nursing women, the sick, and the elderly are all exempt from the full fast.
  • TIP: Some Jews do not even brush their teeth on Yom Kippur because water would pass their lips.
  • Step 2: Taper off favorite foods Prepare your body in the days leading up to the fast by tapering off any food or beverages that you rely on to get through the day.
  • TIP: The no drinking rule includes coffee! Addicts should cut down on their java several days ahead of time to prevent a caffeine-withdrawal headache.
  • Step 3: Prevent dehydration Prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of water and eating water-rich foods, like fruit, in the hours leading up to the fast. Avoid things that deplete your body of water, like salt, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks.
  • Step 4: Carefully choose your last meal Choose foods with staying power for your last pre-fast meal. Potatoes, fish, whole wheat pasta, oranges, and apples are among the most filling foods.
  • Step 5: Break fast carefully Break your fast by drinking a glass or two of milk or juice before eating solid foods; it will prevent you from eating too much and too rapidly.
  • FACT: The Talmud also forbids bathing, wearing leather, and having sexual intercourse on Yom Kippur.

You Will Need

  • Preparation
  • A filling pre-fast meal
  • Self-discipline

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