The Day of Atonement is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Yom Kippur begins sundown Tuesday and runs through Wednesday evening.
The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, is a time set aside to repent for sins and to reflect on the year past and the year to come. Observant Jews generally attend synagogue, with readings from the Torah, and fast for 25 hours.
Breaking the fast Wednesday evening is a celebratory time.
For non-Jews, Yom Kippur was that scene in Neil Diamond’s 1980 film, “The Jazz Singer,” when you cried because Neil’s character, Jess/Yussel, and his estranged rabbi father, Cantor Rabinovitch — memorably played by Laurence Olivier at his hammiest (in a Jewish movie?) — finally came together after Laurence ripped his clothes (”I heff no son!”) when Jess/Yussel married Lucie Arnaz, rather than the plain girl who was a promiscuous carnival worker a year earlier in Steve Martin’s “The Jerk.” Jess/Yussel surprised his Pop by singing the solemn Jewish song “Kol Nidre,” at temple services followed by the rousing pop song, “America” and all was right with the world again — except for movie critics.
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Here’s what else you need to know about Yom Kippur:
1. Your first inclination might be to wish your Jewish friends “Happy Yom Kippur!” because, after all, “Happy Hanukkah!” works. But heaven forbid, do not do this. Yom Kippur is a solemn day. Much better you say, “Have an easy fast” or “Good yontif,” or “Good holiday” or “Blessed Yom Kippur.”
2. If you are Jewish but not completely up on all the meanings of the day, the Day of Atonement refers to the transgressions between man and God. If you’ve sinned against another person, you’ve got to make your reconciliations one on one with that person. That’s Judaism 101, folks.
3. Observant Jews will be with family or in synagogue Wednesday. Work is considered forbidden during Yom Kippur.
4. Hold off on sharing that power bar for 24 hours. It is a day of fasting for the faithful. Jewish law makes exceptions for the sick, pregnant women and children.
5. Have patience. Once the fast breaks, expect bigger business than usual at your favorite Jewish deli or bagel place. If you think the wait was long outside Roasters ‘n’ Toasters Saturday morning, try a restaurant Wednesday night packed with hungry, sins-cleansed Jews.