Yom Kipur

Yom Kipur – The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur In Brief
 Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, when we are closest to God and to the essence of our souls. Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” as the verse states, “ Because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance” (Leviticus 16: 30-31)

When: The 10th day of Tishrei (this year in 2020, from several minutes before sunset on Sunday, September 27, until after nightfall on Monday, September 28), coming on the heels of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year, which is on the first and second days of Tishrei).

How: For nearly 26 hours we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or apply lotions or creams and do not wear leather footwear. Instead, we spend the day in synagogue, praying for forgiveness.

History of Yom Kippur
Just months after the people of Israel left Egypt in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BC), they sinned by worshipping a golden calf. Moses ascended Mount Sinai and prayed to God to forgive them. After two 40-day stints on the mountain, full Divine favor was obtained. The day Moses came down the mountain (the 10th of Tishrei) was to be known forevermore as the Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur.

That year, the people built the Tabernacle, a portable home for God. The Tabernacle was a center for prayers and sacrificial offerings. The service in the Tabernacle climaxed on Yom Kippur, when the High Priest would perform a specially prescribed service. Highlights of this service included offering incense in the Holy of Holies (where the ark was housed) and the lottery with two goats—one of which was brought as a sacrifice, the other being sent out to the wilderness (Azazel-a scapegoat).

This practice continued for hundreds of years, throughout the time of the first Temple in Jerusalem, which was built by Solomon, and the second Temple, which was built by Ezra. Jews from all over would gather in the Temple to experience the sacred sight of the High Priest performing his service, obtaining forgiveness for all of Israel.

When the second Temple was destroyed in the year 3830 from creation (70 AD), the Yom Kippur service continued. Instead of a High Priest bringing the sacrifices in Jerusalem, every single Jew performs the Yom Kippur service in the temple of his or her heart.

What to Do Before Yom Kippur?
Forty days before Yom Kippur, on the first of Elul, we begin blowing the shofar (listen below to the voice of the shofar) every morning and reciting Psalm 27 after the morning and afternoon prayers. In Sepharadic communities, it is customary to begin saying Selichot early every morning (Ashkenazim begin just a few days before Rosh Hashanah)—building an atmosphere of reverence, repentance and awe leading up to Yom Kippur.

Praying one of the common Selichot songs, repenting and asking forgiveness

For the week before Yom Kippur (known as the 10 Days of Repentance), special additions are made to prayers, and people are particularly careful with their mitzvah observance.

Voice of the Shofar (Ram’s horn)

How Yom Kippur Is Observed?
Shabbat and holiday dinners are ushered in with candle lighting. Like Shabbat, no work is to be done on Yom Kippur, from the time the sun sets on the ninth of Tishrei until the stars come out in the evening of the next day.

On Yom Kippur, we afflict ourselves by avoiding the following five actions:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Wearing leather shoes
  • Applying lotions or creams
  • Washing or bathing

The day is spent in the synagogue, where we hold five prayer services:

Beyond specific actions, Yom Kippur is dedicated to introspection, prayer and asking God for forgiveness. Even during the breaks between services, it is appropriate to recite Psalms at every available moment.

Indeed, although Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the year, it is suffused with an undercurrent of joy; it is the joy of being immersed in the spirituality of the day and expresses confidence that God will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness.

Meaning of Yom Kipur in Jewish Religion

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Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah
Jewish New Year

Below is a short description of this holiday and its meaning, together with some of the special traditions and foods related to this holiday.

Rosh Hashanah (actually means “Head of the Year”), the Jewish New Year, will begin with sundown of this coming Friday and will last for 2 days, Saturday and Sunday.

This holiday marks the anniversary of the creation of the world according to Jewish tradition, and a day of judgment and coronation of God as king.

It is a day of prayer, a time to ask the Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessing. But it is also a joyous day when we proclaim God King of the Universe.

Together with Yom Kippur (which follows 10 days later), it is part of the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe, or High Holidays). The season of the High Holidays is a time for an epic journey for the soul, and Rosh Hashanah is where it all begins.

Few words about Rosh Hashana

The Shofar (Ram’s horn)
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar on both mornings of the holiday, which is normally done in synagogue as part of the day’s services but may be done elsewhere for those who cannot attend.

The blowing of the shofar represents the trumpet blast that is sounded at a king’s coronation. Its plaintive cry also serves as a call to repentance. The shofar itself recalls the Binding of Isaac, an event that occurred on Rosh Hashanah in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to God.

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we wish each other “Leshanah tovah tikatev vetichatem” (for a male) or Leshanah tovah tikatevee vetichatemee” (for a female) – (“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year”), or we simply say “Shana Tova” which means “Happy New Year”

Our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year, so Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include round Challah bread (studded with raisins) and apples dipped in honey, as well as other foods like pomegranates that symbolize our wishes for a sweet year. Here are some of the typical foods we eat in Rosh Hashanah:

Bread (Challah loaves)
The bread (traditionally baked into round Challah loaves, and often sprinkled with raisins) is dipped into honey instead of salt, expressing our wish for a sweet year. We do this on Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat before Yom Kippur), in the pre-Yom Kippur meal and during Sukkot.

Below, is a short video on how to shape the Challah bread in the photo above, but you can actually shape it anyway you want, this is a more festive look for this bread

How to shape the round Challah bread

Apple dipped in honey
Furthering the sweet theme, it is traditional to begin the meal on the first night with slices of apple dipped in honey. Before eating the apple, we make a blessing and then say, “May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year.”

The food we eat during this feast is traditional food, symbolizing a wish for the coming year. This is why we eat pomegranates, giving voice to a wish that “our merits be many like the [seeds of the] pomegranate.”

Pomegranates have 613 seeds (count them if you don’t believe), just like the 613 commandments (do and don’t do) in the Jewish Torah, so what can be more symbolic than this?

Tanzia – Caramelized dried fruits
This is a very well known Moroccan dish, usually served on feasts because it looks beautiful. It is served in Rosh Hashanah meal since it is sweet, made of dried fruits, with lots of nuts and honey.

Goes very well as a side dish with rice, perfect with Cuscus and very tasty and festive when it is cooked with meat, beef or lam, whatever you prefer

It is a slow cooking dish, so make some time, have your dry fruits and nuts ready and enjoy !

Instruction on how to make this Tanzia – Enjoy !

Quince Jam
Not too many people know this fruit, even in Israel, it is most common among Jews from Morocco and from Iran and since the first fruits appear around Rosh Hashanah, some people make jam out of this fruit, sweet jam with cinnamon, which is symbolic for a good sweet year

For me, this jam is a taste of childhood, a taste of home, we always had that for Rosh Hashanah meal and so I want to include a recipe for a jam made out of this fruit

It’s going to be a hard work, but it is so worth it – Enjoy !

To finalize this recipe I also added an audio file with an explanation on how to make the jam. Hope you enjoy it all.

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Jewish and Christian Holidays

Often I was asked by tourists to put together something which will explain the Jewish Holidays and special days in the Jewish Calendar and in the Christian calendar

I am happy to start this series called Jewish Holidays, where I will publish every Jewish Holiday or every day with significant in the Jewish Calendar, explain the holiday and its traditions and bring some flavors and tastes of foods, customs, traditions and show how Jews relate to that day in their culture

I will also publish about Christian days in the Christian calendar.

It is very symbolic that the first holiday we start this series is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, beginning of the year and beginning of this series

Join me to watch this series of “Jewish Holidays” and special Christian days

Jewish Holidays Video Series

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Below is a list of holidays and special days in the Jewish calendar and in the Christian calendar. I will keep adding the holidays during the entire year. Please press on the holiday you want to watch, you will be transferred to a page with videos

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)

Fast day (Tzom) in memory of Gedaliah

Yom Kipur (Day or Attonment)

Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles)

Chanukah (The Festival of Lights)

Tu Bishvat (The new year for the trees)


Passover (Pesach)

Palm Sunday

Maundy Thursday

Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers

Independence Day

Lag Ba’Omer

Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim)

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks)