Today, Sunday, September 24, is the holiest day of the year for our Jewish neighbors. The time of repentance, begun on September 15 culminates today, the Feast of Yom Kippur, beginning at sundown on Sunday evening.
On the day before Yom Kippur, a special and bountiful meal is enjoyed with candle lighting at the end of the meal. Many people remember those who have gone before them. Some Jewish people visit cemeteries on this day before Yom Kippur.
Jewish congregations spend the eve of Yom Kippur and the entire day in prayer and meditation. Friends also ask and accept forgiveness from one another for past offenses on the evening before Yom Kippur, since obtaining forgiveness from one’s neighbor signifies God’s forgiveness. God forgives the sins of those who sincerely repent and show their repentance by behavior and good deeds.
“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God.”
Yom Kippur concludes the “10 days of repentance” that begin with Rosh Hashana, New Year’s Day. The Bible refers to Yom Kippur as Shabbat Shabbaton (“Sabbath of Solemn Rest,” or “Sabbath of Sabbaths”) because, even though the holy day may fall on a weekday, it is on Yom Kippur that solemnity and cessation of work are most complete. The purpose of Yom Kippur is individual and collective purification by the practice of forgiveness of the sins of others and by sincere repentance for one’s own sins against God and neighbor.
For us, Ash Wednesday carries many of the aspects of Yom Kippur.
Let us pray that the grace of God may fill the hearts of our Jewish neighbors.
Fr. Steve Adrian