Yom Kippur: Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement,” is one holiday Mormons certainly ought to understand, accomplished LDS pianist Marvin Goldstein says.
In 2010, Yom Kippur falls on Saturday, Sept. 18 — the 10th day of the month of Tishrei. Yom Kippur ends the annual period known as the High Holy Days, which begins with Rosh Hashanah.
On Yom Kippur, considered by Jews to be the holiest day of the year, there are special restrictions against eating and drinking (even water), annointing one’s body with anything of chemical origin (including cosmetics and deodorants), washing, having marital or sexual relations, and the wearing of leather shoes for 25 hours (from the sundown prior to nightfall the day of).

It’s treated as a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed.

The lengths of periods of fasting and communing can vary, says Goldstein, who converted from Judaism to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1985. Orthodox Jews are more strict with some aspects of observance than others.
Most Jews traditionally spend the day in fasting and intense prayer, often in synagogue services.

Jewish people believe God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to seal the verdict. The day, set aside to afflict the soul, is essentially the last day on which to persuade God to make a more favorable decision.

During the Days of Awe prior to Yom Kippur, people try to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for sins against God and others. (If a person has offended another, reconciliation needs to be sought and made before Yom Kippur.)

It is customary to wear white. Some Jews wear a “kittel,” or the white robe in which the dead are buried.

The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions.

At the close of Yom Kippur, the sinner considers him or herself absolved by God.

The Yom Kippur prayer service includes several unique aspects. One is the actual number of prayer services. On a normal day, there are three: evening, morning and afternoon. On Yom Kippur, there are five and a public confession of sins. (A separate prayer book exists for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.)

There is also a prayer dedicated solely to the Yom Kippur service of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The services end with a long blast on the shofar.

The number of worshippers in the synagogues often doubles or triples on Yom Kippur.

Goldstein says he doesn’t feel a need as a Mormon to observe Yom Kippur because he renews his covenants with God every week through the LDS sacrament service. But more Latter-day Saints “need to be more sensitive to Jews,” he says.

“If any religion is closest to our religion, it’s Judaism,” Goldstein said.

Sharon Haddock, Mormon Times


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