Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins tonight at sunset. It is
considered the most important and holiest holiday of the Jewish year. Many of the faith will fast for the entire 25-hour period and are forbidden to work. While it is a time of reflection and repentance, it is also important to be aware of the ways we can greet each other during this time in warm and respectful ways. According to My Jewish Learning:
“The most common Jewish greeting on Yom Kippur is g’mar chatima tovah (pronounced gih-MAR chah-tee-MAH toe-VAH), which literally means “a good final sealing.” This greeting, often just shortened to g’mar tov, references the traditional belief that a person’s fate for the coming year is written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed — i.e. finalized — on Yom Kippur. This greeting can be used in the run-up to Yom Kippur, and in the early hours of the fast itself.
Another Yom Kippur greeting, often used in the days preceding the fast or just as it’s beginning is tzom kal (pronounced tzome kahl), which literally means “easy fast.” The English equivalent, “Have an easy fast,” is also not uncommon. Recognizing that the purpose of Yom Kippur is not that the fast should be easy per se, some have taken instead to wishing people a meaningful fast. All three variants are acceptable”
Yom Kippur: A Brief History
- The dates in the Jewish calendar known as the "10 days of repentance" began with Rosh Hashanah (New Year's Day) and end with Yom Kippur.
- Devout Jews atone for their sins from the past year. They ask for forgiveness from God and from other people.
- It is a day of fasting, repentance, and worship. On this day no work is permitted.
- Yom Kippur is found in the Bible in Leviticus 16:1-34; 18:1-30 and in Numbers 29: 7-11.
- The services during Yom Kippur are held continuously throughout the day and include readings from the Torah and the reciting of penitential prayers.
- Services conclude with closing prayers and the blowing of the shofar-a ritual musical instrument carved from the horn of a ram.
Where Can I Learn More?
- History Channel (great to use with students)- http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/yom-kippur-history
- Judaism 101- http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday4.htm
- Yom Kippur Articles & Resources from "My Jewish Learning"
Also, the Lower School Library has a wonderful display of children’s books dedicated to Yom Kippur. If you have a little one, or just want to learn more, stop by and take a look.
To all our Jewish Country Day Families and students who are observing this Sacred Day of Atonement, we send you our warmest and best wishes.
G’mar Chatima Tova,
The Diversity Planning Office