Skip to main content

How To Atone For Yom Kippur

As Jews begin a new year, they set aside a day to repent for the previous year's sins by fasting and asking God for forgiveness. Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the most important day on the Jewish liturgical calendar.


  • Step 1: Greet others by saying, "Have an easy fast."
  • Step 2: End the period of fasting by reciting the Shema prayer and listening to the shofar, or ram's horn, in synagogue.
  • Step 3: Celebrate with a festive meal after the sun goes down, usually a dairy-based one that's lighter than your pre-fast meal. After more than a full day without food or drink, be careful at all-you-can-eat buffets.
  • FACT: During Yom Kippur it is also prohibited to wear leather shoes, bathe, wear makeup or perfume, and engage in sexual relations.
  • Step 4: The next day, return to the synagogue for prayer services that focus on the confession of sins and petitions for forgiveness.
  • Step 5: Treat it like a Sabbath day, when no work should be done.
  • Step 6: Eat a big meal before the sundown that marks the beginning of Yom Kippur. Traditional foods for this meal include a hearty soup, chicken, and challah bread, but avoid salty foods that will make you thirsty.
  • Step 7: Attend the Kol Nidre service at your local synagogue, which will begin before sundown and is named for the "all vows" prayer that begins the service.
  • Step 8: Fast for 25 hours, from before sundown of this evening until after nightfall the following day. This means consuming no food or liquid.
  • TIP: People suffering from certain illnesses should consult with a physician or rabbi before Yom Kippur, as fasting should not threaten life or health. Women within 3 days of childbirth and children under the age of 9 are forbidden from fasting.
  • Step 9: Before the holiday, ask for forgiveness for any sins you may have committed against other people. Yom Kippur is a day to repent only for sins against God.

Popular Categories