Yom Kippur - Photo courtesy of Menachem Weinreb on Unsplash

Yom Kippur begins at sundown with observant Jews fasting and seeking forgiveness for their sins.

According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur is the day Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of commandment tablets — he had smashed the first — and announced God’s pardon to the people for worshipping a golden calf.

Observant Jews believe that God inscribes the names of the righteous in the Book of Life on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and seals the book on Yom Kippur, 10 days later. For that reason, the traditional greeting among Jews on Yom Kippur is Gemar Chatima Tova, which means “good final sealing” and conveys the wish: “May your name be sealed in the book of life.”

Yom Kippur services begin with the Kol Nidre, an ancient prayer that literally means “all vows” or “all promises.” The last service of the day ends with the sounding of a ram’s horn called a shofar.

Yom Kippur concludes at sundown Wednesday, ending the 10-day period on the Jewish calendar known as Days of Teshuvah, which is variously translated as repentance, return and change, and the Days of Awe. Many Jews fast on Yom Kippur and spend much of the time in synagogues.

“Yom Kippur is our holiest day, a day when we believe more than any other that we can transform ourselves, transform our relationships, and transform the very foundations of our lives to make the world better,” Rabbi Noah Farkas, president and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told City News Service.

“The world is noisy. It can feel bleak and confusing. But on this Yom Kippur, when we take stock of who we are and what we want out of life, we must not shut ourselves off from the troubles of the world. We must rise up and use the noise to create a sacred song that lifts us above everything.

“This is the day to use the pain of the world to make a better one. To transform the cacophony of chaos into goodness. To make the godly choice to create the future instead of being afraid of the future. This is our holy mission as Jews, to partner with God and look at our noisy world and refuse to run away from it. To be like God and rise above and say, `Let there be light.”’

In his Yom Kippur message, President Joe Biden said, “At the heart of Yom Kippur is the universal truth that we are all capable of growth and improvement. Each of us has a role to play not only in healing the wounds we’ve inflicted on others, but in repairing the rifts in our communities, our country, and our world.

“As these Days of Awe come to a close, let us all take this opportunity to face the injustice and inhumanity in our world honestly and resolve to do our part to mend what is broken.”

While most congregations require membership and tickets for High Holy Days services, several organizations are conducting free services.

The JEM Center in Beverly Hills will hold a Yom Kippur Eve service at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. On Wednesday, a traditional service will be held at 10 a.m., a Yizkor memorial service at approximately 12:30 p.m., an afternoon service at 4:45 p.m. and concluding service at 6 p.m.

Registration can be made by calling 310-772-0000 or online at www.jemcommunitycenter.com/events/high-holiday-services-2022-2022-10-04-18-30.

The Laugh Factory will conduct Kol Nidre service at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday. Reservations can be made by calling 323-656-1336.

This is the 39th consecutive year The Laugh Factory has held free High Holy Days services.

Stephen Wise Temple, a Reform congregation in Bel-Air, will stream what it is billing as a family-friendly Kol Nidre service at 5 p.m. and service at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at WiseLA.org/online, Facebook.com/WiseLA and YouTube.com/WiseTempleLA.

A “tot service” will be streamed at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and a kindergarten through sixth grade service at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Facebook.com/WiseSchoolLA.

A digital worship supplement is available at www.wisela.org/3d-flip-book/high-holy-days-2022-5783-supplement/.

Shomrei Torah Synagogue, a Conservative congregation in West Hills, will stream a Kol Nidre service at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at www.stsonline.org/media-galleries/live-streaming.

Temple Judea, a Reform congregation in Tarzana, will stream its Kol Nidre service at 4:55 p.m. Tuesday at templejudea.com/pray/live-stream/.

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