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September 26, 2006 > Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

by Linda Stone

According to the Gregorian calendar Jewish Year 5767, from sunset October 1 to nightfall October 2, 2006 is the time when Jews atone for their sins of the past year by observing Yom Kippur. This time is considered one of the most sacred of Jewish holidays also known as a "High Holiday." It is the end of the Days of Awe that include a ten day period between Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur.

The literal translation of Yom Kippur is "Day of Atonement." On Rosh Hashanah, God inscribes names into his books writing down those who will live or die, and those who will have a good life or bad life for the next year. However, actions such as repentance, prayer, and good deeds during the Days of Awe can alter God's decision. Yom Kippur is the "last chance" to make amends. During this time a common greeting is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

During Yom Kippur, no work is allowed and Jews must refrain from eating and drinking during the 25-hour fasting beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.

Other restrictions listed in the Talmud, or collection of Jewish oral interpretations of the Torah (bible), include washing and bathing, anointing one's body with cosmetics, deodorants, etc., wearing leather shoes and engaging in sexual relations. At the end of this day, Jews believe, God seals judgment for each person.

The concluding service of Yom Kippur, known as Ne'ilah, when the ark (a cabinet containing the scrolls of the Torah) is kept open during the service, ends with a long blast of the shofar or a ram's horn, blown like a trumpet as a call to repentance.

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