Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

March 23, 2024 / 5 mins read

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is a day for reflection and repentance. It is the day when we ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoings of the previous year and commit ourselves to grow in the year ahead. Many Jews fast on Yom Kippur and some will spend the day in synagogue or in prayer. In addition to not eating or drinking, to deny themselves certain luxuries, some Jews will wear non-leather shoes (since leather shoes were once considered a comfort) and not bathe or put on lotions. There is a custom to wear white as a symbol of purity while we refrain from bodily pleasures and engage only in spirituality.

Yom Kippur is always 10 days after Rosh Hashanah.



Fasting is done by adults and those over the age of b’nai mitzvah (which typically occurs when a child turns 13) and those in good health. Some gather for a break-fast meal at the conclusion of Yom Kippur.
Many American Jews have a dairy, bagel-and-lox type meal. On Yom Kippur, you can wish people an easy and meaningful fast or a Hebrew greeting of “gmar chatima tova” (may you be inscribed for a good year). At the end of Yom Kippur, the shofar, which is a hollowed ram’s horn, is blown and the fast is concluded.


One of the key prayers is the viddui, or confession, which includes a list in alphabetical order of all our possible sins from the past year. The Book of Jonah is traditionally read on Yom Kippur afternoon. The story conveys the importance of forgiveness and how it is never too late to change one’s behaviors.


  • Spark Conversation with Your Family

How do you want to grow next year?

How can I be a better parent/sibling/grandparent/friend to you this year?

What would you like to stop doing from last year? What actions or words do you regret?

What do you think you’ll be like next year at this time

  • Kindness Jar

Get a glass jar that you can fill with popsicle sticks. As a family, write one small act of kindness you can easily do on each popsicle stick. In the morning, have each person in your family pull out a popsicle stick with an act of kindness to do that day. In the evening, share what acts of kindness you did.

  • Talk About Apologies

Many kids’ books, movies or TV shows have a character who makes a mistake and needs to apologize. Use those scenes as a teaching moment. Ask your child if that was a good apology. Why or why not? What would you have done in that situation.