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Yom Kippur observed as Jewish high holiday

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It is known as the Day of Atonement, sometimes called the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is on this day that Jews come together to atone for their sins collectively and it is marked by a day of fasting. Yom Kippur began on the evening of Oct. 8 and ends this evening after sundown.

Cpt. Mendy Stern is a rabbi serving as a Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Army who is stationed at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He will be on hand at Fort Sill today to lead Yom Kippur services.

“It’s the time when we fast and pray for forgiveness. It is also the time that we believe our fates are sealed by God,” Stern said.

Rosh Hashanah, which took place on Sept. 30, marks the beginning of the New Year in Jewish tradition. It is the day that Jews believe that God writes down the individual fates for the coming year in the Book of Life. Yom Kippur marks the closing of the book for another year, and thus the sealing of fates.

The decree for Yom Kippur comes from the book of Leviticus in a verse that declares Yom Kippur to be a strict day of rest.

“Not only is it the day that all sins are cleansed, but it is also the time that we do other things to elevate ourselves spiritually by abstaining form physical labor,” Stern said.

The first Yom Kippur is said to have been held when Moses descended from Mount Sinai to discover that in his absence the Israelites had begun to worship a golden calf, after atoning for their sins God forgave them and gave Moses a second set of tablets. This officially marked the first day of atonement.

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