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Yom Kippur begins Wednesday: Here's what you need to know

Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, is regarded as the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion.

SEATTLE — Those practicing Judaism all around the world are celebrating Yom Kippur. But what does the holiday signify, and how do Jews celebrate?  

Below is everything you need to know about Yom Kippur:

When is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur always begins 10 days after Rosh Hashana, lasting roughly from sundown on one night until sundown on the next night. This year it began on Wednesday, Sept. 15. The earliest it can ever fall is on Sept.14, which makes 2021 a near-record breaker, and the latest it can happen is on Oct.14.

What is Yom Kippur?  

Yom Kippur, a Hebrew name, means Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year for Jews and often results in the biggest turnout at synagogues around the world, though that is likely muted by the pandemic.

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What happens on Yom Kippur?

Jews spend lots of time praying on Yom Kippur, hoping to atone and repent for all of their sins over the past year. It is a time of deep introspection, leading to a very quiet, somber experience.

Because of the intensity of the day, most Jews refrain from working on Yom Kippur.

Sandy Koufax famously refused to pitch Game One of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. Koufax ended up doing so well in the rest of that series, throwing shutouts in both Games 5 and 7, that he was named the 1965 World Series MVP.

Most Jewish adults fast (no food or water) for the entire holiday, although there are mandatory exceptions. For instance, children and those with serious medical conditions are not allowed to fast.

Among the traditions, many Jews try to give charity in the days leading up to Yom Kippur. Many Jews wear white clothing to synagogue (to symbolize purity) and some refrain from wearing leather belts or shoes so as to distance themselves from any connection to an animal. Additionally, Jews are not allowed to engage in any marital relations.

Night services conclude with a blowing of the shofar and often a large meal to break the fast.

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