Reprinted with permission from “Jewish Art Calendar”.
Published by A cable to Jewish Life

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsps. oil
2 egg yolks
½ cup water
1 ½ tsps. baking powder or baking soda

  1. Combine flour, salt, and oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks, water and baking powder (or soda).
  3. Add to flour mixture.
  4. Knead and rollout, thinly, on floured surface.
  5. Cut into 3 inch squares or circles.

Filling Ingredients:
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsps. oil
1 cup ground cooked meat or chicken
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg
1 Tbsp. matzoh meal

  1. Saute onion in oil. Add chopped meat and brown for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Add salt, pepper, egg and matzoh meal, and mix well.
  3. Fill center of each square or circle of dough with meat mixture. Fold into triangles, or bring both sides and bottom together towards center, pinching together, and thus forming a triangle.
  4. Place folded triangles in lightly salted boiling water for approximately 20 minutes until kreplach float to top.
  5. When ready, remove from pot and serve in soup or as a side dish.
    For firmer kreplach, fry in heated oil in skillet over medium flame until golden brown on both sides.

Yom Kippur-The Day

Customs and Laws

A. Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, a festival day, which is observed like Shabbat.

B. Afflicting your soul – “…on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all…for on that day will G-d forgive you and cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before G-d” (Leviticus 16:29-30). How does one afflict one’s soul and why? The oral law enumerates five prohibitions as the way to “afflict your soul” on Yom Kippur: eating and drinking, washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations. By refraining from these actions, one is reminded that it is the spirit that must be the focus, not the body. It may seem the opposite is true, that a person would focus on being hungry or thirsty or uncomfortable from not washing, but such discomforts are temporary and on Yom Kippur one can transcend physical discomfort to connect with the spirit of the day.

1) Eating and Drinking – From sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur until nightfall the next day it is forbidden to eat or drink.
Pregnant and nursing women also fast. However, they should consult both a doctor and a rabbi about fasting, if they feel that fasting will create a dangerous situation.
One who is ill must consult a rabbi. If the rabbi says (s)he may eat, they should only eat that which is necessary and should refrain from delicacies.
Girls below the age of 12 and boys below the age of 13 are not required to fast.

2) Washing – During the fast, one may not wash for pleasure.

If one is dirty, one is permitted to wash away the dirt.
Upon rising in the morning and after using the bathroom, one should wash one’s hands, but only up to the knuckles.
One may wash one’s hands when preparing food.
One may bathe a baby.

3) Anointing – It is forbidden to anoint oneself with oil, thus the use of perfumes, make-up, suntan lotion, and other such items is prohibited.

4) Wearing Leather Shoes – During the fast it is forbidden to wear leather shoes. Some people wear only socks, but others wear shoes of canvas or other non-leather materials.

5) Marital Relations – It is forbidden to have marital relations during Yom Kippur.

C. Wearing White – Many people have the custom of wearing white on Yom Kippur. Some men, wear a kittel, a simple white robe, over their clothing. On Yom Kippur evening, men wear their tallit, prayer shawl, which is usually worn only during the day. Wearing white serves several purposes:

1) One’s burial shroud is white and one is therefore reminded of one’s mortality and the need to do teshuvah, repentance.

2) On Yom Kippur one wishes to resemble an angel, and therefore one symbolically dresses in white.

The Yom Kippur Prayers

Yom Kippur night – Kol Nidre This most famous of prayers is the opening of the Yom Kippur service. It begins before sunset, when the ark is opened and two Torah scrolls are removed to the bimah where the cantor is standing. The Kol Nidre service is an annulment of vows that one took in the past year or that one may take in the forthcoming year. This annulment refers only to voluntary vows between man and G-d and does not remove one’s obligation to repay debts or fulfill personal agreements.

    • Vidui/Confession- One aspect of the teshuvah/repentance process is to verbalize one’s sins. This takes place during the confession.
    • The confession must be with a true heart – one must truly repent the action (s)he is confessing.
    • Vidui is recited during every Yom Kippur service, including the afternoon service (mincha) preceding Yom Kippur.
    • The Vidui service is made up of a list of 22 sins (one for each letter of the aleph-bet). Examples of the confessional lines are:

i) For the sin that we have sinned before You under duress and willingly…

ii) For the sin that we have sinned before You with harsh speech…

The confession is recited standing up, head bowed in humility. As each confession is stated, one strikes the left side of his/her chest with his right fist.

Focusing on Vidui

* On first reading through the Vidui, one may think “I didn’t do that!” Each time one reviews the Vidui lines, however, one can gain a deeper insight into what is being said. For instance, one confession reads:For the sin that we have sinned before you by causing subservience through bribery.
“Subservience through bribery” does not necessarily mean giving a judge money to change a verdict. Every day people bribe each other with promises or flattery. When reading the Vidui, perhaps one may realize that they have coerced someone into doing something not quite right by promising them something or by encouraging the continuation of a negative character trait.

      • Reviewing the confession lines and reading them with a slightly different outlook will make the Yom Kippur experience all the more meaningful. Through this service, we realize how important our every action is.
      • The Torah Reading on Yom Kippur- During the Morning Service two Torah scrolls are removed from the ark. An account of the Yom Kippur Service of the High Priest in the Holy Temple is read from the Book of Leviticus, followed by a listing of the special sacrifices of the holiday in the Book of Numbers. The Haftorah is from the Book of Isaiah.

The Afternoon Service

Yom Kippur is the only holiday on which there is a weekday afternoon Torah reading. The section is taken from the portion of Acharei Mot in Leviticus and deals with the laws of forbidden sexual relations. The Haftorah is the story of Yonah (Jonah).Yonah is one of the prophets of the Bible: G-d chooses Yonah go to the Assyrian city of Nineveh and warn them that they will be destroyed unless they change their ways. Instead of following G-d’s command, Yonah flees onto a ship, hoping to avoid this mission. G-d sends a great storm. The people on the ship, fearing for their lives, discern that Yonah is the cause and, at Yonah’s instruction, throw him overboard. Yonah is swallowed by a large fish (commonly interpreted as a whale). He lives inside the fish for three days, praying to G-d and accepting G-d’s will.

When he is returned to dry land, he goes to Nineveh and gives them G-d’s message. The people repent and are saved. Yonah, however, leaves the city depressed that this city of idol-worshipers heeded G-d’s warning when his fellow Jews do not. He sits outside the city waiting to see what will happen. While he sleeps, G-d makes a vine grow over him to shade him from the heat. Yonah awakes and rejoices over the vine; but that night, G-d sends a worm to destroy the vine, causing Yonah to weep. G-d then rebukes him for having pity on a plant that appeared and disappeared in one night, but not having pity on the hundreds of thousands of souls of Nineveh.We read from the Book of Yonah on Yom Kippur because it highlights the idea of teshuvah, repentance.

      • Yonah realized that he had done wrong in trying to run away from G-d’s command. Yonah actually follows the pattern for teshuvah: He recognizes his mistake while on the ship during the storm; He verbally confesses that he was wrong by telling the men on the ship that he is the cause and instructing them to throw him overboard; He regrets his actions as expressed by the prayers he says while in the belly of the fish; and, when once again commanded by G-d to go to Nineveh, he does so.
      • The men on the ship, seeing the power of the G-d of Israel, repent their worship of idols and convert to Judaism.
      • The city of Nineveh heeds Yonah’s warning. The king of Nineveh decrees that his subjects must don sackcloth and repent. G-d sees that the people actually change their actions. The city is saved, highlighting the fact that G-d desires and accepts repentance from all people.

Yizkor – The Memorial Service

The Yizkor Memorial Service is recited on the last day of each festival – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, and on Yom Kippur (as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered like one holiday). The Yom Kippur Yizkor Service, however, is considered more significant than the other holidays.
While those who have passed away are unable to grow spiritually, the deeds of their children earn merit for their souls.

During the Yizkor Service, it is customary for people to offer a pledge to charity in memory of their loved one(s).
In Ashkenazic custom, those whose parents are both living leave the sanctuary during Yizkor. In Sephardic custom, everyone remains in the sanctuary while the cantor recites Yizkor.

Ne’ilah – The closing prayers

As the sun begins its descent on Yom Kippur, the Gates of Mercy, opened during the period of Teshuvah, are closing, and it is the last hour before the sentence is sealed.
Only on Yom Kippur is a fifth Silent Amida added to the day, and this is during the Neilah service.
As the day closes, the Neilah Service concludes with the blowing of the Shofar, heralding the closing of the Heavenly gates and announcing our optimism that our prayers were accepted and that the day will have a positive outcome.

After the Fast

After the Havdallah (separation of holy and weekday) ceremony, everyone returns home and partakes in a festive meal. Because one wishes to extend the holiness of the day, many begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, by starting to build their sukkah right after Yom Kippur.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

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Rosh Hoshana

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Learn more

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There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

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How We Prepare

How We Prepare

Preparation for Yom Kippur begins during the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, beginning with Rosh Hashana, when Jews focus on Teshuva, repentance, and coming closer to G-d.

Erev Yom Kippur

      • Kapparot – This is a ritual of symbolic atonement

1) Before Yom Kippur, we make every effort to rid ourselves of sin. The custom of Kapparot is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch, The Code of Jewish Law, written 500 years ago and is described there as an ancient custom.
2) Kapparot is generally performed during the night before Yom Kippur, although it may be performed earlier.
3) Traditionally, kapparot is performed by taking a live hen or rooster, depending on one’s gender, and swinging it over one’s head while reciting a passage transferring one’s sins onto the bird. The bird is then slaughtered according to Jewish Law and given to a family in need. – An alternative custom (which is widely practiced in modern times) is that, instead of a chicken, one takes the appropriate amount of money to feed a family and donates it to a charity that provides food to the needy.

        • Mincha – During Mincha, the afternoon service, the Vidui, confession, is added to the Silent Amida.
        • Eating a Festive Meal – It is a mitzvah to partake of a festive meal the day before Yom Kippur. This meal should be eaten early so that one may have the special seudah hamafseket, meal before a fast, after the afternoon service.

a) Whoever eats on erev (the eve of) Yom Kippur and fasts on Yom Kippur, it is as if (s)he fasted both days.

b) The fasts in Judaism are not about deprivation, but about reaching a more focused spiritual level. It is, however, important that one has the strength to focus on the activities of Yom Kippur day.

      • Seudah HaMafseket, The Meal Before the Fast.

1) This meal can actually be eaten any time during the day, although most people partake of it after mincha, the afternoon service. The meal must be concluded during the daytime.
2) One should only eat light foods which are not too salty in order not to make fasting difficult. (It is therefore the custom not to eat fish at this meal.)
3) No intoxicating beverages should be served.
4) It is customary to eat kreplach dumplings, (usually served in soup) before Yom Kippur. The kreplach are hidden bits of meat in dough, symbolic of our desire that G-d will hide our sins.

      • Yahrtzeit Candles-It is customary to light memorial [yahrtzeit] candles which burn for 24 hours just prior to lighting the festival candles.
      • Festival Candle Lighting: All Jewish holidays begin at sunset the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov [festival], candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holy day. The procedure for lighting candles for a holiday varies slightly from Sabbath candle-lighting:

a. The blessings are said before lighting the candles.
b. The end of the blessing is changed to represent Yom Kippur:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom ha-Kippurim.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Yom Kippur.
c. An additional blessing is made to acknowledge the good fortune of being able to experience the holiday:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more


Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Yom Kippur


Yom Kippur

The Day of Atonement begins at sunset.  There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

The Sabbath of Sabbaths

The tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei), Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on the previous day. There is something mystical about Yom Kippur in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day: On Yom Kippur, G-d graces the world with amnesty – all one needs to do is to come and ask for it.

When we spend the day talking with G-d, we are discussing, privately, all the things for which we need such amnesty, thereby cleansing ourselves and helping us recognize how we can improve our lives. In fact, the holiday is structured for us to build towards this connection with our inner-selves and with G-d.

High Holiday Videos

High Holiday 101

Web Series

These High Holiday videos are each between 9-12 minutes long and are geared towards anyone seeking to engage fellow Jews on the High Holidays. Whether you are a rabbi, or a lay leader, your observance is traditional or more progressive, you will benefit from these engaging videos.

View The Series

High Holiday Programs

Join or partner with us in one of our renowned High Holiday programs.

High Holiday Prayer Workshop

The High Holiday Prayer Workshop (HHPW) is designed for those who seek meaning in a service they find difficult to relate to and hard to understand. Based on the Abridged Beginners Service, the Prayer Workshop…

COVID-19 | Program Status

With the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, and especially due to the Delta Variant that is expected to remain dominant throughout the fall months, NJOP has decided, out of an abundance of caution, to not offer High Holiday grants, meant to advertise and enhance your in-person High Holiday services. We know that some synagogues and Jewish centers are back to running regular services and activities, while others are still offering virtual opportunities to their congregations. Whatever your current plans are for High Holiday programmig, NJOP is here to help. NJOP will continue to provide you with any materials, holiday workshops, etc that you will find useful to help your community prepare for the holidays. We hope to fully reinstate the grant initiative in future years.

We pray for the speedy and complete recovery of all those who have contracted the virus and the safety of all others.

Thank you for your understanding.

High Holiday Beginners Service

Looking for something different for this year’s High Holidays? If you are one of thousands of Jews around the country who are curious but wary or hesitant about High Holiday services, NJOP invites you to start here…

Abridged High Holiday Beginners Service

A brief and dynamic program designed to appeal to, and inspire, those who may not have attended a High Holiday Service in some time. This brief program enables participants to appreciate the majesty and beauty of the Rosh Hashana and…

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