Hebrew for Yom Kippur 101

Yom Kippur is the Jewish day of atonement, which usually happens in mid September. It's a day when Jews remember the things they regret doing the past year and pledge to do better in the next year. It's one of the High Holidays, the other one being Rosh Hashanah.

The word Yom Kippur means "day of atonement." יוֹם כִּיפּוּר (audio)

Let's practice reading Hebrew and learn some stuff! Like how to wish people a happy Jewish New Year in Hebrew, and some of the important words for the holiday.

What do you say to people on Yom Kippur?

On a day like Yom Kippur, the word "happy" just doesn't fit...

  1. The most common: A traditional greeting meaning "a good final seal" referring to the idea that Yom Kippur is your last chance for your deeds to seal you in the "Book of Life" for a good year. גְמַר חַתִימָה טוֹבָה (audio) or g'mar chatimah tovah.
  2. There's still time to wish a happy new year to someone if you haven't: שָׁנָה טוֹבָה (audio) or Shanah tovah.
  3. Another common holiday greeting is chag sameach: חַג שַׂמֵחַ (audio)

The Yom Kippur Vibe

Let's be honest, Jews are a little strange: kicking off the New Year with a day of fasting? But it's a bit like taking the New Year's resolutions concept really far.

Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and reflection, but it's also considered a very holy and beautiful day. You're reflecting on the things you wish you'd done better in the past year, and committing to making the next year better!

It's considered a time when Jews have the strongest connection to the divine, so it's very spiritual.

It might seem weird to wish someone a "good fast" but really, that's the point: for the fasting to enhance the spiritual power of the day.