Yom Kippur starts at sundown: May you be sealed in the Book of Life

May you finished being sealed in the Book of Life.

By World Israel News Staff

Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, begin at sundown on Tuesday.

In the days before the holiday, Jews customarily say Ktivah V’cahtima Tova –  “may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

Just before Yom Kippur begins, the greeting is slightly modified to the more optimistic Gmar Chatima Tova, which translated loosely means “may you finished being sealed in the Book of Life.”

In the lead-up to the holiday, Jews in Israel gather at the Western Wall to say special prayers for forgiveness called selichot.

According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, one-and-a-half million people visited the Western Wall during this Hebrew month of Elul, which began coincidentally on September 1st this year according to the Gregorian calendar.

“The great flood of people during the past month to the Western Wall Plaza during all hours of the day brought together people from all different groups and backgrounds – religious and non-religious, young and old – testifies to the deep ties all different groups in Israel have to the Western Wall and to Jewish tradition,” the Foundation said in a statement.

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In Israel, the holiday is treated with great solemnity. Highways shut down. Ben Gurion International Airport closes to all traffic. Radio and television broadcasts cease.

According to an Israel Democracy Institute poll, 60 percent of Israelis plan to fast on the holiday.

According to Leviticus 16:29 “And it shall be a statute for ever unto you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the home-born, or the stranger that sojourneth among you.”

According to tradition, Jews abstain on Yom Kippur from eating and drinking, washing, wearing perfume, the wearing of leather shoes and belts, and marital relations.