Since 1788 we’ve made sure poor Israelis can tell the difference between Yom Kippur and every other day.
Most of us know the difference; we fast on Yom Kippur, and we eat on all other days. But it’s not so simple for Israel’s neediest. For poor widows, orphans and the indigent elderly, food security is a year round challenge – a challenge which Colel Chabad readily accepts.
Our ability to respond to the hunger pangs of the poor is significantly enhanced through the pre-Yom Kippur tzedakah given by caring individuals like you. (To donate click here)
The Holiest Day of the Year
Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, is when we are closest to G-d. It is the Day of Atonement: “For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G-d” (Leviticus 16:30).
For nearly twenty-six hours – from several minutes before sunset on 9 Tishrei to after nightfall on 10 Tishrei – we “afflict our souls”. We abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather shoes, and abstain from marital relations.
Before Yom Kippur
Before Yom Kippur we perform the Kaparot atonement ceremony. We give and receive honey cake thereby acknowledging that we are all recipients in G-d’s world, and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year. We immerse in a mikvah and give extra charity. In the late afternoon we eat a festive pre-fast meal. Thereafter, we bless our children, light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles, and go to the synagogue for the Kol Nidrei service.
Yom Kippur Services
Over the course of Yom Kippur we hold five prayer services: Maariv, with its solemn Kol Nidrei, on the eve of Yom Kippur; Shacharit — the morning prayer, which includes a reading from Leviticus followed by the Yizkor memorial service; Musaf, which includes a detailed account of the Yom Kippur Temple service; Minchah, which includes the reading of the Book of Jonah; and Neilah, the “closing of the gates” service at sunset. We say the Al Chet confession of sins eight times during Yom Kippur, and recite Psalms during free moments.
The day of Yom Kippur is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that G-d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness.
The Neilah Service
The closing Neilah service climaxes in the resounding cries of “Hear O Israel . . . G-d is one.” Then joy erupts in song and dance (a Chabad custom is to sing the lively “Napoleon’s March”), followed by a single blast of the shofar, followed by the proclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
After the Fast
We then partake of a festive after-fast meal, making the evening after Yom Kippur a Yom Tov (festival) in its own right.