What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur means Day of Atonement. It is the most sacred and solemn day in the Jewish calendar.

Yom Kippur is a day to reflect on the past year and ask God's forgiveness for any sins. Jews do not work or go to school on this day.

When is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is celebrated in September or October in the UK. In 2020 Yom Kippur will begin in the evening of Sunday 27 September.

Yom Kippur is ten days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world.

What is the story of Yom Kippur?

  • When the Israelite's left Egypt, they went to Mount Sinai. Moses climbed to the top of the mountain and God gave him two tablets with the Ten Commandments on them.
  • The first commandment told people that they should not worship anyone other than God. However, when Moses went down the mountain, he found the Israelites worshiping a golden calf.
  • Moses was so angry that he threw the sacred tablets on the floor and they shattered. The Israelites then atoned for their wrongdoing. God forgave them and gave Moses a second set of tablets.
Moses

How is Yom Kippur celebrated?

The Days of Awe

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called The Days of Repentance or Days of Awe. During these days, Jews think about everything they have done in the past year. If they've done something wrong, they can try to put it right, ask God's forgiveness, and promise not to do it again. Jews also give money to charity.

Bitesize - KS2 Religion - Celebrating Yom Kippur in the synagogue

The Day of Yom Kippur

Jews mark the day of Yom Kippur by fasting for 25 hours. They also wear white and they don't wear make-up, perfume, or leather shoes. The most important part of Yom Kippur is the time spent in the synagogue. Even Jews who do not go to the synagogue very much will go on Yom Kippur. The day is spent in continuous prayer.

Learn about how Jewish people mark Yom Kippur

Where next?

What is Passover?
What is Judaism?
Bitesize Primary KS2

Judaism, there's more to learn...