Hasidic Jewish men pray at sunset outside the grave of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh grand rebbe of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement, to mark the start of Yom Kippur October 1, 2006 in Cambria Heights, New York.
Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images
Many will observe a tradition in the Jewish faith Tuesday as Yom Kippur begins at sundown.
Yom Kippur is marked by a day of prayer and 25 hours of fasting. We spoke to Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz of Kehilath Israel Synagogue for more information about this special prayer.
Here’s what he said:
“Yom Kippur is one of the most sacred days of the year in the Jewish calendar for thousands of years. People will be in the most devout prayer they’ve had all year where they not only join their family and friends and other congregants, but they join God in what is the most introspective and intense prayer of the year.”
“We’ll have people in a deep meditation and prayerful state trying to connect with who they long to be and trying to correct the wrongs they’ve done in the past year.”
“The primary message of Yom Kippur is that we are radically free. This is one of the greatest contributions Jewish thought makes to the world, that we are not determined by our genes and culture and by our psychology. Of course, those are factors, but at the end of the day we are radically free to choose who we are and we have the power to change ourselves. Yom Kippur comes as a protest in the world against conformity, social conformity, saying you can become better and you must.”
“The main themes of Yom Kippur are in Hebrew called teshuva, tzedakah, tefilah. Tefilah, prayer in that we connect to God, but even more that we create a subversive force to break the callousness inside of us. Teshuva, repentance, that we ultimately change ourselves, we transform ourselves to return to our essence to become the kind of people we want to be in the world. And tzedakah, charity, that we give more to others and that we create a more just world.”
“Ultimately Yom Kippur is about justice. It’s about social justice and creating a more just society. We read in the book of Isaiah on Yom Kippur that God doesn’t want our sacrifices, but our hearts, our hearts given out to the most vulnerable, the poor, those in prisons, the immigrants, the hungry and the poor and the homeless. And ultimately it’s a day to internalize this value that we are mortal, we are vulnerable, we are frail. And by tapping into that we can then give our hearts and our hands to those who are vulnerable in the world.”
“For many Yom Kippur works for them. It always has and it always will. They will be transformed at the end of the day. For others they will rely upon me and others to provide a spiritual experience that will work for them. And as my first year at this congregation it’s an opportunity for me to come to know the Jewish community of Kansas City and to come to know the type of experience that’s needed for others to really go in and tap in spiritually and emotionally to a very deep place. That’s my job to create that space.”
Yom Kippur lasts through sundown Wednesday.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Top Lifestyle Headlines
There is a new phone app on the market that is causing quite a controversy over its suggestive purpose.