Jul 29, 2014
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Yom Kippur: Reflection, Repentance Begin at Sundown

In a time of global tumult, Jews worldwide mark the holiest day of the Hebrew calendar.

Yom Kippur: Reflection, Repentance Begin at Sundown

In the Torah, the Book of  Leviticus commands that the 10th day of the 7th month called  Tishrei be set aside as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths," a day of fasting and reflection for the atonement of sins.

Jews here and around the world will observe this ancient tradition beginning Tuesday with the arrival of Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement," the most solemn occasion of the Hebrew calendar.

Before sunset, the day is marked by acts of charity and pleas for forgiveness. Two special meals also precede a 25-hour fast; synagogue attendance typically surges for the solemn rituals, where hours are spent in reflection and special prayers. Work on this day is forbidden.

The day's ultimate purpose is to seek redemption in the eyes of G-d.

The looming threat of terrorism has caused Nassau County and federal authorities to increase patrols around synagogues during the High Holy Days. Many synagogues are requiring photo identification for admission and have quietly increased their own security efforts, experts said.

Yom Kippur completes the annual period known as the  High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im ("Days of Awe") which began with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Many area synagogues conduct open services on Wednesday; see our events calendar for some of these. 

Jewish teachings hold that G-d inscribes a person's fate for the coming year into the " Book of Life" on Rosh Hashanah and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict. Between the two High Holy Days, Jews attempt to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done to G-d and their fellow man, Jewish scholars say.

Like most districts on Long Island, Smithtown schools are closed on Wednesday.

Editor's Note: The spelling of "G-d" is intentional in this story in respect of a Jewish tradition. See the link for details.

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