Most goys, or non Jews, only know one or two of the many Jewish holidays; Hanukkah and Passover. But the more important holidays arguably are the lesser known, like the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanna, and the day of atonement, Yom Kippur.
On Yom Kippur you reflect on the past year, make amends with anyone you wronged, pay off your debts, and ask for forgiveness from God. “[T]he annual Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance” is how Reform Judaism describes Yom Kippur. This day starts the new year off with a clean slate, a sort of fresh start religiously. It somewhat aligns with the Lunar New Year customs of cleaning and starting anew. Yom Kippur fasting begins before sunset on Sept. 22 and ends after sunset on Sept. 23, but many young children, pregnant women, or much older adults refrain from fasting for the full day or at all if they are unable to for health reasons.
Some differences between the way the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements or denominations of Judaism observe Yom Kippur and all of the holidays are that Conservative and Reform Jews usually don’t spend the entire day in prayer, some continuing to attend school or work for the day while fasting.
The holiday is understandably serious, quite spiritual, and sometimes difficult because of the fasting aspect. Drinking water isn’t even technically allowed. If you happen to have any Jewish friends, be warned that they will not be interested in grabbing lunch and might even be a bit moody from low blood sugar, I know I will be.
Photo source: Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons