Yom Kippur JCC Closing Q & A

Categories: JCC

Yom Kippur Edition


Q: Why is the JCC closed three days out of the year?

A: Three of the highest holy days in Judaism are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. The JCC closes its doors for one day in accordance with each holiday.

Q: When are these Jewish holidays?

A: This year Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown on September 20 and ends at sundown on September 22; Yom Kippur begins at sundown on September 29 and ends at sundown on September 30; Passover begins at sundown on March 30 and ends at sundown on April 7.

Q: Why do Jewish holidays occur on different days each year?

A: Jewish holidays occur on specific Hebrew calendar days. The Hebrew calendar is based on three astronomical phenomena: the rotation of the earth about its axis (a day); the revolution of the moon about the earth (a month); and the revolution of the earth about the sun (a year). The civil calendar, used by most of the world is not based on moon cycles for the month. This causes the Hebrew date and the civil date to be very different and causes Jewish holidays to occur on varying civil calendar days each year.

Q: Why is the Hebrew calendar year different from the civil calendar year?

A: The year 2017 in the civil calendar translates to the year 5777 in the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrew calendar year count represents the number of years since creation, calculated by adding up the ages of people in the bible back to the time of creation. The civil calendar is based on the birth of Jesus Christ. A.D and B.C. refer to dates before and after the birth of Christ to differentiate the between the eras. The Jewish people do not believe that Jesus Christ is the messiah and do not follow a Christian based calendar year.

Q: How many months are in the Hebrew calendar?

A: The basic Hebrew calendar year consists of twelve lunar months alternating between 29 and 30 days. In leap years an additional month, is added resulting in thirteen lunar months in a year.

Q: What are the Hebrew calendar dates of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover?

A: Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first two days of the month called Tishrei. Yom Kippur is always on the 10th of Tishrei. Passover always starts on the 15th of the month called Nisan and is celebrated for eight days.

Q: What is Yom Kippur?

A: Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. Falling in the month of Tishrei (September or October in the Gregorian calendar), it marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that follows Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Q: What is the Hebrew to English translation of Yom Kippur?

A: Yom is a Hebrew word meaning “day.” Kippur is a Hebrew word meaning the “atonement.” When combined, Yom Kippur literally translates to “day of atonement.”

Q: What do the Jewish people do to observe Yom Kippur?

A: There are many customs for this holiday the most common customs are as follows: no working, refraining from eating and drinking (even water) for a 25-hour fast beginning before Sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. Jewish scripture also stipulates no bathing or washing of hands, and no wearing of leather shoes. Wearing white is also customary signifying purity. At the end of Yom Kippur a ram’s horn is blown. Most of the day is spent at temple reciting the prayers in accordance to the holiday, or resting.

Q: What’s the significance of these customs?

A: On Yom Kippur the Jewish people fast because it is a “mitzvah” which is a Hebrew word for a commandment. The commandment stipulates: “On the tenth day of the same seventh month you shall observe a sacred occasion when you shall practice self-denial.” The holiday being described is none other than Yom Kippur. The biblical Hebrew term for self-denying can be interpreted two ways: 1) to deny oneself comforts; 2) to show humility. On Yom Kippur the Jewish people are meant to humble themselves by stripping away luxurious comforts. These acts of denying oneself the comforts of bathing, eating, drinking, and wearing leather shoes are physical acts the Jewish people practice while spiritually purifying their souls through prayer.

Q: What do you say to someone observing Yom Kippur?

A: Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish holy day, however it is not a happy holiday. It is a somber day. Therefore wishing someone happy holidays on this day is not customary. The common greeting is to wish someone an easy fast.

Later on this year we will provide all our members with a brand new update about our closings regarding Passover.

Until then we wish all those observing this holiday a very easy fast, and look forward to seeing you all October 1, 2017 at our normal operation hours!

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