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Yom Kippur in Australia

Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday known as the Day of Atonement. Many Jewish people in Australia spend the day fasting and praying. Its theme centers on atonement and repentance. Yom Kippur is on the 10th day of the month of Tishrei (or Tishri) in the Jewish calendar.

Is Yom Kippur a Public Holiday?

Yom Kippur is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

The shofar, an instrument used to blow sound, is pictured with a Jewish holy book.

The shofar (pictured above with a holy book) is blown at the end of a Yom Kippur evening service.

©iStockphoto.com/Robert Pears

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish Australians believe that God seals their fate for the coming year on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur involves fasting, praying and reflection. Some people perform the Kaparot (or Kaparoth) ritual before Yom Kippur. It is a form of atonement and is made using chickens or money. Many Jewish people spend time in the synagogue on this sacred holiday. The fasting lasts for 25 hours and begins on the evening before Yom Kippur. It ends after nightfall on Yom Kippur. Some restrictions can be lifted when a threat of health or life is involved.

Many Jewish communities recite Birkath Hallebanah (the blessing for the Moon) prior to Yom Kippur and not after the fast. There are various reasons for this: one of them being the tendency of some congregations to rush it in order to get home. Moreover, Birkath Hallebanah is usually recited after one has tasted some food. Other activities include avoiding perfume, not washing and not wearing leather shoes.  Some Jewish Australians may take time off work during this time of the year, as the general restrictions on work, as described for the Sabbath, apply on Yom Kippur.

Public Life

Yom Kippur is not a federal public holiday in Australia. However, many Jewish businesses, organizations and schools may be closed on this holiday and the streets around synagogues may be busy.

Background

Yom Kippur is often considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur’s origins lie in a ritual purification of the Temple in Jerusalem from any accidental ritual impurities that had occurred in the past year. The Kohen Gadol (high priest) entered the Holy of Holies at the center of the temple on Yom Kippur. It was important that he was spiritually and physically as pure as possible.

Many rituals were carried out to ensure that the Kohen Gadol was pure and that he did not carry any ritual impurities into the Holy of Holies. Yom Kippur became a more somber holiday after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The Torah calls the day Yom HaKippurim and Leviticus 23:27 decrees a strict prohibition of work and affliction of the soul upon the 10th day of the seventh month, known as Tishrei.

Symbols

It is customary to wear white on Yom Kippur, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that one’s sins should be wiped away. Some people of Jewish faith also believe that humans are compared to angels on this day. It is customary to not wear gold jewelry as gold serves as a reminder of sins associated with the golden calf, a story passed down among the Jewish community.

Many Jewish men wear a kittel or sargenes and a tallit on Yom Kippur. A kittel is a simple white robe that is also used as a shroud and is worn by bridegrooms in some Jewish communities. A tallit (tallis, taleysm) is a prayer shawl with tzitzis strings tied through each of the four corners.

About Yom Kippur in other countries

Read more about Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur Observances

Note: Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015WedSep 23Yom KippurJewish holiday
2016WedOct 12Yom KippurJewish holiday
2017SatSep 30Yom KippurJewish holiday
2018WedSep 19Yom KippurJewish holiday
2019WedOct 9Yom KippurJewish holiday
2020MonSep 28Yom KippurJewish holiday
2021ThuSep 16Yom KippurJewish holiday
2022WedOct 5Yom KippurJewish holiday
2023MonSep 25Yom KippurJewish holiday
2024SatOct 12Yom KippurJewish holiday
2025ThuOct 2Yom KippurJewish holiday

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