Yom Kippur 5774 – Gmar Hatima Tova

Yom Kippur (Maurycy Gottlieb)

Jews praying in the synagogue, by Maurycy Gottlieb
(Wikimedia Commons)

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us once again, beginning in a few hours time here in Israel, when we will be entering a 25-hour fast with day-long prayer services, composed of beautiful, spiritual and emotional prayers and songs, being held in shuls and community centers throughout the Jewish world. It is a day when we must ask forgiveness from our fellow man if we have wronged them, forgive those who have wronged us if they ask to be forgiven, and pray that Hashem will seal us in the Book of Life.

In Israel, traffic comes to a complete halt throughout the country, even in the most secular towns, and a serene and holy calmness pervades throughout the land. Even the international airport and public transport close down for the day, starting from a few hours before the fast until an hour or so after the fast ends.

You can read more about Yom Kippur at Aish.com who have a great Yom Kippur info-graphic.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel was taken by surprise on its holiest day by an invasion on two fronts, by Egypt and Syria. I will (bli neder) be posting separately about this after the Fast.The video that I posted last Yom Kippur is of special relevance this year because of the 40th anniversary, so I will repost it here. You can read the translation and explanations at last year’s Yom Kippur post.


The IDF Spokesman published a post explaining how IDF soldiers observe Yom Kippur, how they manage to remain on active duty while fasting, and what special allowances are made for them by the Rabbinate in order to make sure that their operations are not hampered while still keeping to the spirit of the day:

Day-to-day work in the IDF comes to a halt on all holidays like Yom Kippur, but essential security work must be active 24/7 as a result of constant threats posed by Israel’s enemies. In 1973, Syria and Egypt abused the holiness of the day by attacking Israel while most of soldiers were fasting at home or in the Synagogue.

For IDF soldiers who are on duty, some of the laws of Yom Kippur are not possible or even dangerous to observe fully. The IDF Rabbinate Corps provides for the religious needs of all soldiers of all religions. The Rabbinate provides Jewish soldiers with guidance for how to observe the holiday in the best way possible, maintaining the delicate balance between a soldier’s obligations to national defense with his or her religious needs.

When soldiers can’t get to a synagogue, the IDF brings the synagogue to them.

As the proud mother-in-law of an IDF Rabbi I can attest to the hard work and investment of time, effort and emotion involved in preparing IDF bases and soldiers for the holidays. May Hashem look after all our soldiers who guard our borders and fight our enemies, and bring them home safely.

In the spirit of the day, I would like to ask forgiveness from anyone whom I might have offended or hurt.

To those who are fasting I wish an easy and meaningful fast.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my family, friends and readers Gmar Hatima Tova – May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

גמר חתימה טובה

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8 Responses to Yom Kippur 5774 – Gmar Hatima Tova

  1. bunuel says:

    chatimah tovah lekoulanou.

  2. Meir Weiss says:

    amen same to you and yours

  3. peteca1 says:

    Very best wishes and prayers to you.
    The whole world needs the process of “Yom Kippur” – regardless of everyone’s religious background. I’ll look forward to your thoughts about the Yom Kippur war.

    Pete, USA

  4. anneinpt says:

    Thank you all for your kind good wishes.

  5. Pingback: The Yom Kippur War – 40 years on | Anne's Opinions

  6. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Apropos of absolutely nothing, except that this relates to Yom Kippur: so, we were in New York, with the US branch of the family, for Yom Kippur (and got back earlier today), and on our perambulations around the Upper West Side (where the kids are) and down to where we were going to (and coming from) the services we attended – and between services as well, as there is always a gap between them, and people walk around, in order not to think about food! – we found it fascinating to see the stores that were closed from before sunset Friday until Sunday am because it was Yom Kippur. Reminds one that NYC is, probably, anything up to 20% Jewish – of all shades. And that the owners were either Jewish themselves (these weren’t chain stores) &/or employed significant numbers of Jewish staff.

    Thus, we attended, in the morning, a very (highlighted and underscored) liberal service: of the sort that, if it wasn’t there, a significant number of people would, while acknowledging their Jewishness, nevertheless have no link to Judaism or any (also highlighted and underscored) Jewish community of any sort. Then, for Minchah & Neilah (the afternoon and concluding services for Yom Kippur), we walked (it was, after all, Yom Kippur) back up, from the southern fringes of Greenwich Village/Tribeca, to West 61st Street, to take part in a US Conservative service – much like any ordinary service, wholly in Hebrew, but with participants mixed as to gender – the decorum was excellent! – at the Ethical School. I wrote briefly about this school in my report on this years’ London Jewish Book Week for this blog and Anne was kind enough to print it. Our younger NYC grandson has just started there as a pre-schooler.

    All this is to note that, for non-Jewish readers of Anne’s blog, if you hadn’t already realised it, Jews are as diverse as any other group you care to name!

    May you all have a peaceful and sweet New Year.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for sharing your very interesting Yom Kippur Brian. It’s good that you remind all of us that the Jewish people is extremely diverse.

      Here in Israel too there were Yom Kippur services of all denominations. Not so long ago that didn’t exist – the shul that the seculars didn’t go to was an Orthodox shul. Nowadays however the Reform community is growing and they hold Yom Kippur services of their own. Of course the Conservative (or Masorti) community is also quite a force today in Israel and I get the impression it is steadily growing.

      There are also diverse “alternative” minyanim and services both on Yom Kippur and on regular Shabbatot.

      An interesting side-note: our shul is next door to a municipal youth center and a now-closed state school. The head of that school approached our shul some years ago and asked if we could hold Yom Kippur services for parents of the school. Our shul took up the challenge and every year we hold a parallel service for the non-religious in the youth center. It’s open to everyone and people even walk in off the street. Already in the first year the service was packed to overflowing and they ran out of prayer books! Kol hakavod to the headmistress for having the openness and courage to approach the shul, and kol hakavod to our shul for taking up the challenge. Even though the school is now closed (and reopened as a haredi school) the parents, children and friends still come to the Yom Kippur services.

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