Contact Us

Overview of the Day before Yom Kippur's Observances

Overview of the Day before Yom Kippur's Observances


Preparations for Yom Kippur begin early in the morning with the kaparot (atonement) rite. This consists of passing a chicken over one's head and reciting a traditional text. The chicken is ritually slaughtered and given to charity. Click here for more about this ceremony.

On this day the primary mitzvah is to eat and drink in abundance. Two meals – festive affairs – are eaten, one earlier in the day, and one just prior to the onset of Yom Kippur. In many communities it is customary to eat kreplach – dumplings filled with ground meat or chicken. Click here for more about the pre-Yom Kippur feasting.

In between the prayer services and preparing and eating the two meals, there is a lot to squeeze in:

  • Yom Kippur erases all the sins we have committed "before G‑d"—but not the sins we may have committed against our fellow man. So we need to approach anyone whom we may have wronged and beg their forgiveness before Yom Kippur. Click here to read more about this.
  • All men immerse in a mikvah (ritual pool) on the day before Yom Kippur. See here for more information.
  • At some point during the day it is customary to ask for and receive lekach (sweet cake). See here for the reasons behind this.

Minchah (the afternoon prayer service) is prayed relatively early to allow ample time to eat the final meal. Before Minchah, it is customary for all men to receive symbolic "lashes" as a humbling reminder to repent, as well as for everyone to give charity generously – a great source of merit. Click here for more about the afternoon prayer service and surrounding activities.

Then we partake of the final meal. One must stop eating prior to candle-lighting time. Immediately before the fast begins, it is customary for parents to bless their children. Click here for more about the final meal and the traditional text for blessing the children.

Then, 18 minutes before sunset, women and girls light candles, and the fast begins. Click here for more details. (At this point, all 24-hour candles, which you can read about here, must have been lit as well.)

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Des Moines, Iowa August 16, 2016

The Sparks of Holiness B"H
My dad was a great scientist & engineer but he felt he had to work on himself to be a decent righteous gentile. He studied with many great sages from all religions, yet held Judasim in the highest regard--where one can learn, argue and grow emotionally, mentally and learn to regard life as precious. If you study Tanya, read & learn thru the various levels of Torah, the answers can be found for the majority of our grievances & devotions. When you respect G-d in all your actions, you respect not only your fellow man but the animals that are in our care. While many think eating meat is terrible, it is that very spark of holiness found there that is released & elevated to keep a Jew alive & well (G-d willing) to be able to do our random acts of kindness, do mizpahs, etc. for yet another day. Reply

Anonymous New Jersey via September 22, 2015

Yom Kippur Dear Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2
Jews have been and are hated around the world. It is certainly not because of Kaparot. I suggest you ask our enemies to stop their acts of hatred: dragging dead American soldiers in the streets and then putting their head on a stick. Reply

Menachem Posner Skokie October 7, 2014

RE: The Day Before Yom Kippur The chicken is just a chicken. It will end up in a kosher pot, and possibly be served with matzah balls and dill. So what does it have to do with us? Two things.

a. The worth of the chicken is given to charity. And yes, giving charity is very potent. The sages tell us that "charity saves from death."

b. Seeing the soon-to-be-soup chicken and realizing how fragile life is serves as a very visible wake-up call. It drives home how important it is that we make the right choices this Yom Kippur. Reply

Anonymous New york October 3, 2014

Stop Killing Chickens and all animals, Stop killing innocent animals, this can still be done without killing anything.

Jews have been hated for thousands of years, let's stop any acts of violence and start getting better karma. Energy is real, we need to keep good energy always and lead by example to the World. Reply

Anonymous USA October 2, 2014

Day Before Yom Kippur I would not want that chicken after it goes over your head. What is this all about? What does a chicken do to you? Does it have any power to save you? Or is it the Almighty G-d who can save you? I am confused. Is this anywhere in Torah or Sacred books? Thank for your reflection before answering this comment. Reply

Ariel Grazky Dallas, Tx September 29, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Respect for others and their rituals is the recipe for keeping one’s teeth.
As my dad says. Reply

Related Topics
Find Services
Audio Classes
Holiday Shopping Kids Zone
Free Greeting Cards