||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand. (December 2011)|
Yom Kippur is a Jewish festival. It is also known as the day of atonement. It lasts 25 hours. During this period, Jews ask God to forgive them for all their sins. People fast on this day, and they have to go to synagogue. Other things people are not allowed to do during Yom Kippur include washing, using perfumes or lotions, and having any kind of sexual intercourse.
Many wear white as a symbol of purity.
Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. In Jewish tradition, God writes the fate of each person for the coming year into a "book" on Rosh Hashanah. God waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the fate. During the Days of Awe, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior. They will also seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God (bein adam le'Makom) and wrongs done against other human beings (bein adam lechavero). The evening and day of Yom Kippur are used for public and private confessions of guilt (Vidui). At the end of Yom Kippur, a Jew considers themselves absolved by God.
The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several special parts. One of them is the number of prayer services. A regular day has three prayer services (Ma'ariv, the evening prayer; Shacharit, the morning prayer; and Mincha, the afternoon prayer). A Shabbat or Yom Tov has four prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf, the additional prayer; and Mincha). Yom Kippur has five prayer services (Ma'ariv; Shacharit; Musaf; Mincha; and Ne'ilah, the closing prayer). The prayer services also include a public confession of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah (service) of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Yom Kippur is one of the holiest of Jewish holidays and it is observed by many Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many Jews fast and attend synagogue on Yom Kippur, where the number of worshippers attending is often double or triple the normal attendance. Many other Jews choose not to fast.