Yom Kippur 2024: What Is It and How Is It Celebrated

Yom Kippur 2024 begins at sundown on Friday, October 11, 2024, and ends at sundown on Saturday, October 12, 2024. This is the holiest Jewish holiday and the most important twenty-four hour period, known as the “Day of Atonement”—the last of the ten days of penitence that began on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). Yom Kippur commemorates the day Moses came down from Mount Sinai after seeking God’s divine forgiveness for the Israelites who sinned against him by worshipping a golden calf idol.

Day of Atonement

Yom means “day” in Hebrew, and Kippur means to atone (Day of Atonement).

Throughout the 10 Days of Awe (Repentance) leading up to Yom Kippur, those practicing Judaism have been reflecting on the personal aspects of the past year, deciding how to improve, seeking forgiveness and showing compassion to others. Traditionally, the belief is that after judging a person by their deeds over the last year, God decides who will be sealed in the Book of Life (to live for another year) and who will die.

Yom Kippur Traditions

There are many traditions associated with Yom Kippur. Here are four of them:

1) Fasting (From Food And Work)

Feasts are replaced with fasting on this holiest of religious days. However, two traditional meals are enjoyed the day before the fast begins at sundown. Both meals begin by dipping round challah bread into honey, as is customary on Rosh Hashanah. At sundown, the “soul is afflicted” by 25 hours of fasting—no drinking or eating. Fasting enables followers to stop their normal routine to refocus their attention to prayer and connecting spiritually with God.

2) Attending Synagogue Services

There are several synagogue services throughout Yom Kippur. Songs, religious customs, as well as prayers and readings from the Machzor, the special prayerbook are recited. Portions of Deuteronomy are read in the morning service, and a selection from Leviticus and Genesis are read in the afternoon. The readings encourage those in attendance to live holy lives and draw closer to God. They are also reminded to love others. The single, long blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) ends the Holy Day service and fasting. Livestream Yom Kippur services and programs for those unable to attend are available this year.

3) Wearing White

It is tradition for everyone to wear white clothing on Yom Kippur. The men often wear a Kittel—a white, robe-like garment—on Yom Kippur. It is said to resemble angels, the high priest’s garment, and burial shroud. White reminds those attending services that they are to be like the angels, praising God. White also symbolizes the forgiveness and spiritual cleansing they’re praying for, and that life on earth is temporal. White is worn with a humble awareness of one’s need to repent sins and pray to God for forgiveness. They pray in hope, remembering how God forgave the children of Israel for their sin of idolatry during the days of Moses.

4) Breaking The Fast

Traditional foods for Yom Kippur 2023.
Bagel bun spread with cream-cheese on rustic breakfast table with ingredients: salmon, avocado, hummus and quail eggs, top view

At the conclusion of the last Yom Kippur service, many enjoy a festive meal at home with family and friends. The foods that are traditionally eaten vary, but are often baked breakfast goods.

We asked friends to tell us what they traditionally eat to break the fast:

Typically we break [the fast] with a lighter meal—tuna fish, whitefish salad, blintzes, egg soufflé, or bagels with cream cheese and lox.

Dr. Eric Mintz of West Bloomfield Township, Michigan

We always break the fast with bagels and Nova (lox). Always! When the kids were younger we went to a friend’s home. They invited a ton of people and had the most amazing dairy spread. We’ve taken the tradition with us wherever we moved.

Robin Zorn, a native of New York, New York

Preparing For Yom Kippur 2024

Just as Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, the day before Yom Kippur is set aside for eating and preparing for this holy day. There are many activities done before the fast, including eating a pre-fast meal, known as the seudah ha-mafaseket (“meal of separation” or “concluding meal”), lighting of candles, donating to charity, and requesting and receiving honey cake, which provides blessings for a sweet year.

What Is A Yom Kippur Greeting?

The Yom Kippur greeting is G’mar Hatima Tova, or G’mar Tov. (meaning, “May you be sealed in the Book of Life”). It is also customary to say, “have a meaningful fast” before the holiday begins.

Join The Discussion

How will you and your family celebrate Yom Kippur 2024?

Share your experience with your community here in the comments below!


Calendar Of Holidays & Observances

Learn about Rosh Hashanah

Make a traditional Jewish Apple Cake – Get the recipe

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Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

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Today is November 2nd, and Yum Kippur was October 4th. How in heaven’s name do you write about this sacred Jewish holiday right now? Where were you October 3rd, so that this could have been read by many people to understand this holiday? You need to be ashamed of yourselves at Farmer’s Almanac for failing so far behind the meaning of this holiday. I think an explanation is in order that explains the tardiness of the edtors.

Farmers' Almanac Staff

Hi Joan –

We always appreciate hearing from our readers, we especially appreciate them asking about something if they are confused and perhaps do not understand something.

We are well aware of when Yom Kippur is and this article was published long before that date so people could read it and enjoy it. We had many, many people read this article; as you can tell from other comments below that are dated at that time. We are happy to be able to provide something of value to our readers, especially those who appreciate it. It is always nice to be appreciated and to know that we are doing our little part to contribute to a kinder, nicer society that appreciates what we offer …. for free.

Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment, it speaks so loudly.

Have a lovely day.

Last edited 1 year ago by Farmers' Almanac Staff

May the Lord bless you and your loved ones on Yom Kippur and always. “Our Deliverer is coming.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Irris

“A broken spirit, and a contrite heart I will not despise,” says the Lord. (God’s Word) Wishing you a memorable Yom Kippur. God loves you, and forgives you. May you be blessed.✡️✝️☮️ Shalom. Peace to you, and your family.

Last edited 1 year ago by Irris
mattthew tropeano

thanks for this information. i’m inspired to make some challah!

Farmers' Almanac

Hi Matthew! We love hearing that. Let us know how it turns out!

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