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Yom Kippur History and Facts for Kids


  • Yom Kippur central themes are atonement and repentance.
  • Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
  • Yom Kippur is usually expressed in English as “Day of Atonement”.
  • Rosh Hashanah is the first day of that month according to the Hebrew calendar.
  • Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”) that commences with Rosh Hashanah.
  • According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict.
  • The prayer services also include private and public confessions of sins (Vidui) and a unique prayer dedicated to the special Yom Kippur avodah of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
  • As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays.
  • The first time in each service takes place during the personal recitation of the Amidah (standing, silent prayer), and the second time during the cantor’s repetition of the Amidah (except during the preceding Mincha), in a public recitation.
  • After 2089, the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will result in Yom Kippur falling no earlier than September 15.
  • Garment Change 1 The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
  • Garment change 2 The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments.
  • Offering of Rams The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar.