Published On: Fri, Oct 4th, 2019

Yom Kippur 2019: What do you say to a Jewish person on Yom Kippur?

Also known as The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur begins just before sunset on Tuesday, October 8 and finishes as night falls on Wednesday, October 9. Jewish people around the world mark the festival with fasting and prayer in the synagogue. The quiet day of observation comes just a week after the Jewish New Year festival – known as Rosh Hashanah – ends.

How do you wish someone?

Yom Kippur is a solemn and reflective day, so wishing someone a “Happy Yom Kippur” is not customary.

Instead, people say “G’mar Hatima Tova” which means “may you be sealed in the Book of Life.”

Another version of the greeting is “G’mar Tov” which translates into “a good seal.”

Those observing Yom Kippur believe the Book of Life, which determines an individuals fate for the coming year, opens on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and is sealed at the end of Yom Kippur following the period of repentance.

To greet someone a happy Yom Kippur in English, a person can say “have an easy fast”.

For Jewish people who are not fasting, but are observing the holy day, say “Good Yuntif” or “Yom Tov” which is Yiddish and Hebrew for “Have a good holy day”.

How is Yom Kippur observed?

Jewish people must follow a strict set of rules for 25 hours, with five activities in particular prohibited.

These are abstaining from food and drink, refraining from sex, not washing, not applying lotions or oils, and not wearing leather shoes.

Over the course of the day, worshippers can attend five services at the synagogue.

Shacharit is the morning service and attendees will usually remember those who have died within the last year.

Many people will also choose to dress in white as a sign of purity.

As the day coincides with fasting, Jewish people must eat breakfast and pre-fast meal on the afternoon before Yom Kippur starts.

Kreplach, small dumplings filled with meat or mashed potatoes, are traditionally eaten.

Rice, noodles and high-carb dairy foods are commonplace while salt is generally avoided so people are not dehydrated during the fast.

Honey challah is also eaten as a symbolic gesture to wish people a sweet year ahead, following the commemoration of Rosh Hashanah 10 days before.

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