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Dig Deeper: Yom Kippur


Considered to be the holiest and most solemn day in the Jewish religious calendar, Yom Kippur, or “the Day of Atonement,” will begin this Saturday, Sept. 14. It is the climax of the Ten Days of Penitence, which began on the New Year, Ro’sh ha-Shanah (Sept. 4).

During this festival (Heb. “a good day”), or day upon which work is forbidden, a twenty-five-hour fast is observed from sunset until nightfall the next evening in accordance with the biblical injunction, “For it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God … it shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath” (Lev. 23:27-32).

Along with this “affliction” of the body by abstaining from food and drink, penitential prayers, Bible readings, and formulas of confession are also recited to help atone for sins committed against God. The idea behind this is that on Ro’sh ha-Shanah the fate of every man and woman for the coming year is decreed and written in the Book of Life and then sealed on Yom Kippur. An unfavorable decree can be avoided, but only through sincere repentance through prayer and charity may forgiveness may be granted.

Dig Deeper Series: Yom Kippur

Encyclopedia of Religion Entry

Yom Kippur Recipes 

A modern adaptation of the traditional Yom Kippur festival

The Oxford English Dictionary of the Jewish Religion

The Jewish Religion: A Companion

Avodah: An Anthology of Ancient Poetry for Yom Kippur

The Impact of Yom Kippur on Early Christianity: the Day of Atonement from Second Temple Judaism of the Fifth Century  

Article and links prepared by Alexander Williams, who is a member of the Academic Integration team and currently serving as liaison to the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Photograph by Laura Hutelmyer, photography coordinator for the Communication and Service Promotion Team and special acquisitions coordinator in Resource Management.

Our new Dig Deeper series features links to Falvey Memorial Library resources curated and provided by a librarian specializing in the subject, to allow you to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of seasonal occasions and events held here at the Library. Don’t hesitate to ‘ask us!’ if you’d like to take the excavation even further. And visit our Events listings for more exciting upcoming speakers, lectures and workshops! 




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Last Modified: September 13, 2013

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