Yom Kippur 2021: When does it start and and what is the meaning behind it?

YOM Kippur, one of the holiest days of the year in the Jewish calendar, is taking place this week.

The date changes every year, so here's everything you need to know about Yom Kippur in 2021.

When is Yom Kippur 2021?

Yom Kippur starts at sunset on Wednesday, September 15.

It falls on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei – September or October in the Gregorian calendar.

It marks the culmination of the Days of Repentance or Days of Awe.

This is a 10-day period of introspection that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world.

Those celebrating must start fasting at 7.01pm on September 15.

When does Yom Kippur 2021 end?

Yom Kippur ends at nightfall on September 16.

The latest Yom Kippur can occur relative to the Gregorian dates is on October 14, as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043. 

After 2089, the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will result in the holiday falling no earlier than September 15.

Why is Yom Kippur celebrated?

Yom Kippur means means Day of Atonement.

It is a day to reflect on the past year and ask God’s forgiveness for any sins you may have committed.

The origins trace back to the story of Moses, after the people of Israel made their exodus from Egypt.

According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to "seal" the verdict.

At the end of Yom Kippur, one hopes they have been forgiven by God.

How is Yom Kippur celebrated?

Millions of Jewish families around the world mark Yom Kippur with intense prayer and by fasting for 25 hours.

Some Jews also make donations or volunteer their time to charity in the days leading up to the holiday as a way to atone and seek God’s forgiveness.

They generally don't go to work or school on the day, and most of the day is spent at the synagogue,  where five prayer services are held.

The prayer services are known as Maariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Mincha and Neilah.

Maariv includes the recital of a prayer service called Kol Nidre, which takes place on the eve of the holiday.

The Jewish holiday ends with the Neilah service and the blowing of the shofar, an ancient instrument, which marks the conclusion of the fast.

It is customary to wear white as a symbol of purity during the holiday.

In some areas of the world, white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.

People must not bathe or wash, or wear perfumes or lotions. The wearing of leather shoes is also banned.

For many Jewish families, Yom Kippur is the only day of the year they attend synagogue.

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