Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Here are some tips to help you understand the different services that take place during this holiday.
- Step 1: Consider the second Torah reading, which happens during _Mincha_, the afternoon service, and details which marriages are forbidden in Jewish tradition. The accompanying _Haftarah_ is the entire Book of Jonah, which centers on repentance.
- Step 2: Finish the day with _Ne'ilah_. Jewish tradition says that this is the last chance to repent before heaven's gates are closed and every soul's fate is sealed for the coming year. At the end of _Ne'ilah_, a ram's horn known as a _shofar_ is blown to mark the end of Yom Kippur.
- FACT: Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax sat out the first game of the 1965 World Service in observance of Yom Kippur.
- Step 3: Learn more about Yom Kippur during _Musaf_, which includes 2 sections: the Martyrology, a medieval poem that recounts those who died for their Jewish beliefs, and the _Avodah_, which details how people in Jerusalem celebrated Yom Kippur during ancient times.
- Step 4: Use _Yizkor_, a special memorial service, to remember and pray for forgiveness for the dead. _Yizkor_ also adds to Yom Kippur's solemn and meaningful tone.
- Step 5: Understand Yom Kippur's central themes: asking God for forgiveness, and repentance, known in Hebrew as _teshuvah_. For this reason, _Ma'ariv_, which immediately follows _Kol Nidre_, _Shacharit_, the next morning's prayers, and other services throughout the day include confessional prayers known as _vidui_.
- TIP: Some Jews hit their left breast when confessing to symbolize their penance.
- Step 6: Reflect on the morning Torah portion, which details the Yom Kippur rituals. The _Haftarah_, an additional reading, is from the Book of Isaiah and chastises people who perform religious rituals without adding moral and charitable acts.
- Step 7: Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur, begin in the evening. As the sun sets, go to synagogue and listen to _Kol Nidre_. This legal formula, which is chanted 3 times, asks God to forgive any religious vows that were made but not kept.