Yom Kippur 2012 (5773) begins at sunset on September 25th, 2012 and ends on the evening of the September 26th.
What is Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a major fast day that is meant to be devoted to communal and personal repentance for sins committed over the course of the previous year. Because of the nature of Yom Kippur it is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar.
For more information check out this recommended reading list for the holiday.
What are some customs and practices for Yom Kippur?
Before Yom Kippur, many Jews perform kaparot to symbolically rid themselves of all their sins. On Yom Kippur itself, Jews are commanded to fast as a symbol of atonement. Other restrictions on Yom Kippur include bathing, wearing perfume, wearing shoes with leather soles, and having sexual relations. The day is filled with prayer, beginning with Kol Nidrei in the evening, and ending with Neilah.
Does everyone have to fast?
It is a commandment to fast on Yom Kippur for all those who have reached bar/bat mitzvah age (12-13 years old). If one is not in good enough health to fast they are commanded to eat. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are typically exempt from fasting.
For a history of Yom Kippur from its roots in the Bible, click here.
Pronounced: MITZ-vuh or meetz-VAH, Origin: Hebrew, commandment, also used to mean good deed.
Pronounced: yohm KIPP-er, also yohm kee-PORE, Origin: Hebrew, The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and, with Rosh Hashanah, one of the High Holidays.