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Yom Kippur in Canada

Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday known as the Day of Atonement. Many Canadians of Jewish faith in Canada 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.

A Jewish man praying with a tallis (prayer shawl).

Praying is important part of observing Yom Kippur.

©iStockphoto.com/Tova Teitelbaum

What Do People Do?

Many Jewish Canadians believe that God seals their fate for the coming year on Yom Kippur. This holiday involves activities such as fasting and praying. It is believed that those who repent from their sins will be granted a happy New Year. Many Jewish people spend time in the synagogue at this time of the year.

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 Canadians attend special Yom Kippur services that feature songs and readings. Some services also include prayer offerings to remember the deceased. The holiday ends on a joyous note, and many Jewish people take part in a festive pot luck feast after the fast is over.

Some Jewish Canadians may take the day off work or organize time off 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 national public holiday in Canada. 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 TypeArea
2010SatSep 18Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2011SatOct 8Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2012WedSep 26Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2013SatSep 14Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2014SatOct 4Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2015WedSep 23Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2016WedOct 12Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2017SatSep 30Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2018WedSep 19Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2019WedOct 9Yom KippurJewish holiday 
2020MonSep 28Yom KippurJewish holiday 

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