EREV YOM KIPPUR, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15th
- Selichos/Shacharis: 6:30 AM
- Erev Yom Kippur Mincha: 3:30 PM
- Yom Kippur Meal (Seudas Hamafsekes (last food eaten before the onset of the fast)
- Candlelighting: 7:17 PM (One may light as early as 6:17 PM in order to make it to shul by 7:15 PM. If a woman is lighting at home and making a stipulation that she is not accepting Yom Kippur upon herself, she should not say the Shehecheyanu Bracha at candlelighting. Rather, she should say it when it is said in shul. One also has to make sure that the candle will still be burning when you return home.)
- Fast Begins: 7:15 PM
- Kol Nidrei: 7:15 PM
YOM KIPPUR, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16th
- Shacharis: 8:00 AM
- Speech/Yizkor: Approx. 11:00 AM
- Mincha: 5:15 PM
- Neilah: 6:45 PM
- Maariv: 8:15 PM
- Yom Kippur/Fast Ends: 8:24 PM
Yom Kippur is the Jewish holiday of the Day of Atonement. It falls on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the seventh of the Religious Calendar. (Leviticus 23:27-28) The Torah calls the day Yom HaKippurim. It is one of the Yamim Noraim. The day is observed with a 25-hour fast and intensive prayer.
Kapparos It is customary to perform the rite of Kapparos on the day preceding Yom Kippur (see ArtScroll machzor, page 2). Preferably, kapparos should be done in the early pre-dawn hours of the day before Yom Kippur. (If it is not possible to do so then, the rite may be performed earlier). The custom of kapparos is an ancient one, and was established as a reminder of the goat that the High Priest recited confession over on behalf of the Jewish People. That goat was sent to Azazel. However, in order to ensure that the practice does not resemble a sacrifice in any way (since sacrifices are forbidden outside of the Holy Temple), a chicken is used since chickens were not offered on the altar. We ask G-d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this charity. The rite consists of taking a chicken — a male takes a rooster and a female takes a hen — and waving it over one’s head three times while the appropriate text (found in the Siddur or Machzor) is recited. The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with Halachic procedure. The monetary worth of the kapparot is given to the poor, or as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause. If a chicken is unavailable, one may substitute other fowl or animals; many people use a Kosher live fish. Some give the actual fowl to the poor. Others perform the entire rite with money, reciting the prescribed verses and giving the money to charity. There is no prescribed dollar amount; the donation should be according to one’s financial abilities. Though the word kapparos means atonement one should not think that kapparos itself serves as a source of atonement. Rather, we ask G-d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this charity. [Even children, who are devoid of sin, do kapparos, since they, too, are sometimes the recipients of harsh heavenly decrees.]
Mikvah All men are required to immerse in the Mikvah on Erev Yom Kippur.
Festive Meal (Seudas HaMafsekes) Jewish law requires one to eat a large and festive meal before Yom Kippur starts after the mincha prayer. Virtually all Jewish holidays involve a ritual feast; in the case of Yom Kippur, since one cannot eat a festive meal on the day itself one therefore eats the festive meal on the afternoon prior to the fast. Traditional foods consumed during that meal include kreplach. Many others also have a custom to eat another meal before that, consuming fish.
Blessing the Children It is customary to bless one’s children after the meal, immediately before the fast (see ArtScroll machzor, page 32). There is no required formula for this blessing, but it is customary to say: The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace. They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them. [For a son:] May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe. [For a daughter:] May G-d make you like Sorah, Rivka, Rochel, and Leah.
Candlelighting We usher in this holy day with added light (see ArtScroll machzor, page 34). Just before sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur people who have experienced the loss of a parent light yahrtzeit candles; everyone lights a Ner HaBari (Candle for the healthy) and a Ner Sh’Shavus (Candle whose flame was not used over Yom Kippur which we will use to light our havdallah candle at the conclusion of Yom Kippur); and women light Yom Tov candles. The following blessings are then recited this year. Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha’olam asher kid-e-sha-nu b’mitz-vo-tav v’tzi-vanu li-had-lik ner shel Yom Ha-kee-purim. [Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Day of Atonement.] The Shehecheyanu blessing is then recited. The woman who recites the Shehecheyanu blessing while lighting the candles, omits this blessing from the conclusion of the Kol Nidrei prayer. The men recite this blessing in lieu of the Shehecheyanu normally recited during the holiday kiddush.
General Observances Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the Jewish day of repentance. It is considered to be one of the holiest and most solemn days of the year. Its central theme is atonement from sins against both God and one’s fellow man. Five prohibitions are traditionally observed, as detailed in the Jewish oral tradition (Mishnah tractate Yoma 8:1):
- Eating and drinking
- Wearing leather shoes
- Anointing oneself with oil
- Marital relations
Prayer services Men don a tallis (four-cornered prayer garment) for evening prayers, the only evening service of the year in which this is done. Married men also wear a kittel, or white shroud-like garment, for every service on Yom Kippur, as well, which symbolizes inner purity. Prayer services begin with the prayer known as Kol Nidre, which must be recited before sunset, and follows with the evening prayers (ma’ariv), which include an extended Selichot service. The morning prayer service is preceded by petitions of forgiveness called selichot; on Yom Kippur, many selichot are woven into the liturgy. The morning prayers are followed by an added prayer (musaf) as on all other holidays, followed by mincha (the afternoon prayer) and the added ne’ilah prayer specifically for Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur comes to an end with a recitation of Shema Yisrael and the blowing of the shofar, which marks the conclusion of the fast.