Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It brings to a finale the Ten Days of Repentance that began with Rosh ha-Shanah. It is a day that provides Jews with an opportunity to reflect on their failings and commit to improving their lives in the coming year. The service to start Yom Kippur, often referred to as Kol Nidrei, is perhaps the most solemn evening in Jewish tradition. The following day there are services in the synagogue from morning until sunset, including a Yizkor (Memorial) service at which Jews recall departed loved ones.
Yom Kippur is on the tenth day of the seventh Hebrew month (Tishri), which is usually in September.
In the Torah we are told that Yom Kippur is a day to ‘afflict your soul’. This is interpreted as meaning that Jews should abstain from all life’s comforts, which include washing, the wearing of luxury items (such as leather footwear) and, of course, the consumption of food and drink from sunset to sunset.
Perhaps the most unique element of a Liberal Jewish Yom Kippur observance is the Additional Service that is usually read in the afternoon. In Orthodox Judaism this is mostly an account of the Yom Kippur sacrificial service in Temple times. The Liberal version is a creative and challenging journey through Jewish history reminding worshippers of their heritage and their duty.
Everyone has their own tradition that is invariably based on nothing more than whatever was prepared in their childhood home. The meal after the fast is often cold as there is no opportunity to prepare it during the day, but there is no specific menu.