On Yom Kippur, what do you say? For the Jewish Day of Atonement, greetings, prayers, and Kol Nidrei.
Following Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year’s joyful festival, Yom Kippur takes on a more solemn tone.
Yom Kippur is the holiest of all Jewish festivals, marking the conclusion of a 10-day period of atonement that began with Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the year, is commemorated by refraining from eating and drink for a one-day period.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ chief program officer, Becky Sobelman-Stern, told USA Today, “This isn’t a day of raucousness and partying.” “Yom Kippur isn’t about happiness. It’s all about contemplation. It’s all about self-reflection.”
Rather than wishing someone a “happy” or “merry” Yom Kippur, which is considered impolite, it is usual to express wishes for a good, easy, or meaningful fast. A person can also wish someone a tzom kal—which means “easy fast”—or g’mar chatima tovah, which refers to the concept that God seals their fate for the year on the Day of Atonement based on their behavior between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
While well-wishes will undoubtedly be appreciated at any time, it’s preferable to send them early because many people will be spending the day in temple. Some people will also avoid using technology, such as cellphones.
Those who celebrate Yom Kippur spend the most of the day in synagogue, where they participate in five distinct prayer sessions, which begin at sundown on Wednesday and end at nightfall on Thursday.
On the eve of Yom Kippur, the first service, Kol Nidrei, takes place. The Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark and the Kol Nidrei is recited during the ceremony. Although it is recited as a prayer, the words are more of a declaration that forgives and annuls any future vows and obligations.
According to Chabad, an English translation of the Kol Nidrei is as follows:
We regret all vows, prohibitions, oaths, consecrations, restrictions, interdictions, or equivalent expressions of vows that I may vow, swear, dedicate, or proscribe for myself or others from this Yom Kippur until the next Yom Kippur that comes to us for good; they are all hereby absolved, remitted, and cancelled. This is a condensed version of the information.