Yom Kippur | Reconstructing Judaism

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Yom Kippur

Jewish Time

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, provides a day of intense self-scrutiny and self-affliction within which to undertake looking inward with the primary goals of atonement, forgiveness, and spiritual cleansing and renewal. The Mishna (Yoma 8.9) teaches that Yom Kippur allows us to atone for transgressions against God, but does not allow us to atone for transgressions against our fellow human beings unless we have first made peace with one another. The Jewish textual tradition evolved to emphasize the idea that by repairing ourselves and our relationships with others, we are doing our part to repair the larger world.1

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays

From the Archives: Hashivenu on Teshuvah

As the High Holidays approach, we invite you to revisit our conversation with Rabbi Vivie Mayer on "Teshuvah and Forgiveness."

Seedling sprouting through crack in the stone
Seedling sprouting through crack in the stone

Yom Kippur Resources

For Yom Kippur this year, we've selected some reflections on sin, forgiveness, and transformation, with the hope that you can draw upon them for insight and motivation.

Yom Kippur Resources

Yom Kippur at Lincoln Memorial

Kavvanah written for Yom Kippur services at the Lincoln Memorial, 2015. 

Article

Addressing Race as a Jewish Community

As a time to take responsibility for communal wrongs, Yom Kippur calls us to learn about and grapple with issues of race in America.

Sermon

Gates, Locked and Unlocked: A Yom Kippur Text Study

This text study examines the vivid image of gates closing at the end of Yom Kippur.

Document

Can a Reconstructionist Sin?

Since Reconstructionist Judaism affirms a conception of God as a force, power or process — but not as a supernatural Being who can be addressed and can respond — what happens to the notion of sin? Rabbi Richard Hirsh argues that Reconstructionist theology makes it more, not less, important that we take on the responsibility for judgment, atonement, apology and repentance

Article

How to Make Yom Kippur Meaningful for Our Children

Yom Kippur is probably the most challenging holiday to explain meaningfully on a child's level. Rabbi Devorah Bartnoff, z”l, offers goals and techniques for teaching and experiencing Yom Kippur. 

Article

Fall Holiday Glossary

This file contains a helpful glossary of terms for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. It begins with a letter to parents suggesting themes to think about during the holiday season.

Document

High Holiday Liturgy

Rabbi Alan LaPayover (RRC ‘02), recorded the prayers of the Reconstructionist liturgy for the High Holiday services. The sound files are available for listening and download from links on this page.

Article