Yom Kippur, holiest holiday of Jewish year, begin Sunday: What to know

Translated as 'day of atonement,' Yom Kippur marks a time for fasting and prayer.

ByJalyn Henderson and Zach Ben-Amots WPVI logo
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Yom Kippur 2019: Holiest day of the year for Jews
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for people of the Jewish faith. Here's what it is.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for people of the Jewish faith. This year, it will be celebrated at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 24 and lasts until sundown on Monday, Sept. 25.

Translated to English, Yom Kippur means "day of atonement," and the holiday marks a time for fasting and prayer, according to National Geographic.

Yom Kippur happens 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

During those 10 days, practicing Jews self-reflect, think about past sins and hope to be written into God's Book of Life for the year to come.

Rosh Hashanah is a joyful occasion where people eat apples dipped in honey, along with other sweets to celebrate a sweet and happy new year. Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is a more somber day, where Jews fast to atone for their sins.

It starts with the singing of a prayer called Kol Nidre, a deeply spiritual prayer that marks the opening of the Book of Life. Observant Jews then atone during their fast and hope to have their names inscribed in God's book.

The blowing of a ram's horn, or shofar, during Neilah, the closing ceremony, marks the end of Yom Kippur and the start of the next Jewish year.

Once the sun sets at the end of Yom Kippur, Jewish families and friends gather together to break their fast.

This article was originally published on Oct. 8, 2019.