Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish year and the second of the fall feasts. As Christians, the significance of the holiday is as important as it is to the Jews. Just as I did with Rosh Hashanah, I’d like to share with you how to celebrate Yom Kippur with your family.
What is the Main Purpose for Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, was the day in which all of Israel’s sins were forgiven and the high priest would enter the holy of holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat.
Yom Kippur History
The history of Yom Kippur begins while the children of Israel are in the desert after their miraculous deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. God instructs them to keep holy days as both a remembrance of what He delivered them from as well as pointing the way to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The Day of Atonement is laid out in detail in Leviticus 16. God instructs which animals to sacrifice and how the high priest is to dress. God tells the high priest to first sacrifice for himself and then for the nation. Two goats are chosen. The sins of the Children of Israel are placed on one goat and it is sent out into the wilderness (called the scapegoat). The second goat is sacrificed and its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat. This is the only time the high priest is allowed into the holy of holies.
This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.
It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.
34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses. (Leviticus 16:29-34)
Yom Kippur Facts
Yom Kippur is a time for repentance and introspection. Here are more Yom Kippur facts that might interest you.
- Acts of charity are emphasized during the Days of Awe (the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). Many synagogues put out donation boxes at this time.
- Traditionally Yom Kippur is a day to remember those who have gone on ahead of us. Many Jews visit cemeteries before the beginning of the evening service and light special candles which burn for 24 hours. It is a beautiful way to honor those we’ve lost.
- Some people wear white to symbolize purity.
- There are five synagogue services over the course of Yom Kippur.
- A common greeting during this time is “May you be sealed in the Book of Life “
How do You Celebrate Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur is a solemn feast and unlike Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot, there is little celebrating going on.
Yom Kippur Fasting
Fasting on Yom Kippur for 25 hours is required. It is a time of denying earthly pleasures in an effort to focus on the spiritual. Everyone 13 years of age and older participates in this ritual. Most people know that this fast is abstaining from food, but there are actually 5 areas of self-denial.
- food and drink
- wearing leather
- bathing and shaving
- using oils or lotions
- having sexual relations
A long blast of the shofar (ram’s horn) is sounded at the end of the fast and everyone enjoys a joyful break-the-fast meal.
Help your kids recognize the goodness of God in their lives with this gratitude journal! Click the image below to check it out 🙂
Yom Kippur for Kids
There are not many activities or crafts out there for Yom Kippur for kids (that I could find). I think it is the seriousness of the holiday. Teaching kids to recognize and repent of sins should be the main focus. We are all sinners and in need of forgiveness of sins.
How to Celebrate Yom Kippur with Your Family
The beautiful traditions and obedience to the Law of God which was given to the Children of Israel thousands of years ago are dear to my heart as I researched this post. May you also embrace this part of God as you learn how to celebrate Yom Kippur.
Before ending, I want to make a note of the beautiful verses about our Lord and Savior in Hebrew 9:11-14. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
For a more detailed study on Jesus and Yom Kippur check out What Happened on the Day of Atonement by Worth Beyond Rubies.