Readership Response

Dr. Akiva G. Belk, Director



We received a private request that for reason cannot be printed but the essences of the inquire had to do with observing Yom Kippur


Subject: Yom Kippur Observance at Home

Shalom Charlotte,

Your request is a complicated matter!

First, where do you live? Are you close to a Jewish community? What was your previous method of observing Yom Kippur when you were with your family? The answers to these questions will help us make a clearer response.

Second, observing Yom Kippur can be done individually or with a group. Most individuals observe Yom Kippur in their community Congregation with friends and family. An individual who lives a great distance from their Congregation or has no Congregation normally travels to the community of their choice, stays at a local hotel, observes Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur and then returns to their residence after Yom Kippur has concluded. If this is financially difficult, one may choose to observe Yom Kippur in the seclusion of their home.

Remember all of Yom Kippur is a fast day!

One who observes Yom Kippur in the seclusion of their home should make sure that their home is clean and the area that they use free of distractions. Of course that means turning one's phone off, removing digital clocks, pictures etc. and covering the mirrors. We do this because we are in a state of mourning. We are in this state of mourning from sundown on Sunday night until after dark on Monday night. This means we do not wear perfume, colognes, leather shoes or belts. It is customary on Yom Kippur to wear white, not black.

One should have a Yom Kippur Machzor {prayer book} to follow. If you do not own a Machzor, try your local library. If several selections are available, I recommend ArtScroll's. Also, used bookstores and second hand stores may carry a Machzor. Larger bookstores like Barnes & Noble normally carry them in their religious section. It is best to say the prayers in Hebrew, but if a person cannot speak Hebrew or if it's difficult for them or they cannot understand what they're saying it is better to say the prayers in the language that they are most accustomed to. The most important thing on Yom Kippur is to connect with G-d. If you are in a setting where indeed you are by yourself then it would be best to observe Yom Kippur solo. Yom Kippur should not be distracted with instructing a Non Jew in its observance. It would certainly turn most individuals away. Yom Kippur when observed correctly is difficult. It is not the proper time to introduce even a close friend to Judaism.


All the Best,

Rachel Gold

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