In every faith there is an element of man seeking peace with God; for those of the Jewish faith Yom Kippur is the most holy day of the year. This is the day when a season of repentance concludes and the book of life is closed. Around the world adherents of Judaism will fast for 25 hours and participate in worship services through the day.
Moses wrote about Yom Kippur about 3,500 years ago: “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.” (Lev23:27,16) He explained in his books a process of forgiveness for the people of Israel. First, the High Priest must must bathe himself and put on the sacred linen tunic. He is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household.
After finding forgiveness for himself, the High Priest selected two goats for the cleansing of the people. One goat was offered on the altar in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. Then the High priest offered incense filling the interior of the Temple with smoke. In an atmosphere of mystery the High Priest brought blood from the goat into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat.
To show the success of atonement the High Priest releases the second goat, called the scapegoat, into the wilderness where the animal disappears never to be seen again. In this way (Ps 103:12)
The Atonement Offering occurred annually for 1,500 years until the Temple was destroyed by Roman General Titus in 70 AD. Following that time the Jewish Sanhedrin prescribed prayer as a way of worship and deprivation to show repentance and find forgiveness. Hosea 14:3 tells us, “we render instead of bullocks the offering of our lips.” <www.jewfaq.org/qorbanot.htm>
On the day of Atonement Jewish believers will deny themselves in six ways. It is forbidden to eat, drink, bathe, anoint yourself, wear leather shoes and to engage in sexual relationships.
To prepare for the Day of Atonement many Jews will observe a period of ten days called Teshuva. During this time they seek forgiveness from wrongs done to other people. They also seek to be charitable. On the afternoon before Yom Kippur begins at Sunset take a bath, dress in white clothing and eat a festive meal.
After Sunset, when the new Jewish day begins, the community will go to Synagogue for the evening service. During this time there will be selichot (penitential prayers) and Piyutim (liturgical poems) read from the Machzor (prayer book). During this evening Kol Nidrei will be chanted or sung.
The next day special services will continue with a recalling of the days when Aaron entered into the Holy of Holies with the goat for the forgiveness of the Jewish people and the sending off of the scapegoat. The book of Jonah will be read in an afternoon service demonstrating how God offers forgiveness even for sins against Himself. The services for the day conclude, as the services of the season began on Rosh Hashanah, with the blowing of the Shofar.
It is believed that on this day forgiveness is offered, and those who faithfully and fully participate will have their names written in the book of life for another year.