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Yom Kippur meaning: The Jewish Ramadan?

September 26, 2012

Beyond, Israel and Palestine

I’m not quite sure why, but several people get offended whenever I do this. I can’t help it though–I love to draw analogies between religions. So, when my Jewish friends started celebrations for their holiest day of the year last night, I knew had to write about it. Today’s post is all about Yom Kippur meaning and how I believe it is the Jewish equivalent of Muslim Ramadan.

Yom Kippur meaning, synagogue

Congregation Ohab Zedek (OZ) in NYC (Steven Kelley, Flickr)

Yom Kippur meaning: Overview

On the day of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), a 10-day cycle of penitence begins. Called Yamim Nora’im (High Holy Days), Jewish people cleanse their spirits and seek atonement from God. According to Jewish tradition, they seek not only to reconcile with their God, but also with other human beings.

Then, the tenth day of the month of Tishrei, a major fast takes place. Yom Kippur meaning Day of Atonement,  is a 25-hour solemn period of prayer and renouncement of bodily pleasures. Only water may be consumed. This year, the fast begun on sundown yesterday (September 25th) and ends at sundown today (September 26th). To most Jews, it is a day to spend at the synagogue in communion.

Yom Kippur meaning, feast

Dinner setting after Yom Kippur (Florian Seroussi, Flickr)

Yom Kippur vs Ramadan

As many of you already know, Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. For all 30-31 days, Muslims refrain from sex, food, and even water from sundown to sunrise. Food, water, and juices may only be consumed at night, daily. It is a period of intense prayer and spiritual cleansing. Essentially, Ramadan is the Muslim Yom Kippur, but it extends for a whole month instead of 25 hours.

Please, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying that Ramadan is better than Yom Kippur or vice versa. I’m simply stating the many similarities and differences in order for you to learn more about Jewish and Muslim faith. I find it fascinating that, no matter where we live in the world, we are all humans. We all have many, many things in common. More than we like to think or accept.

Yom Kippur meaning, prayers

Chronology of prayers on Yom Kippur (משפחה, Wiki Commons)

Yom Kippur meaning? Let’s love one another

Whether we celebrate this Jewish holiday or not, let’s take a moment to reflect. To think. To cleanse our spirits. To forgive ourselves and others for our wrong doings. Remember that we are all humans after all. Nobody’s perfect, nobody can be. If we only realized this once in a while, perhaps we wouldn’t judge others so harshly. Maybe if we simply defused peace instead of judgment, our world would be a better place. Now I sound like a hippie though, so I’ll stop ;)

Shana Tovah! What’s Yom Kippur meaning to you?

2 Responses to “Yom Kippur meaning: The Jewish Ramadan?”

  1. Steve Says:

    During the fast of Yom Kippur water is not consumed, with the exception of medications that need to be taken.


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