Yom Kippur is a fast day when we ask G‑d to forgive us and seal our fate for the coming year in the "Book of Life." As such, Jewish greetings for this time day reflect our prayers for a good, sweet year up ahead.

The catch-all greeting you can use for the entire season is “Shanah tovah” (שנה טובה), which means “Good year.” The word “u’metuka” (ומתוקה), and sweet, is sometimes appended to the end.

Before (and on) Yom Kippur, when our fates for the coming year are to be sealed, we wish each other “Gemar chatimah tovah” (גמר חתימה טובה), “A good final sealing.” Before the Yom Kippur, it is also common to wish each other an easy fast.

In Yiddish, the standard wish is for “Ah gut gebentsht yohr,” “A good and blessed year” (א גוט געבענטשט יאהר).

(Note that it is not standard to wish someone a “happy Yom Kippur,” but it is perfectly acceptable to wish them a meaningful one.)

No matter what we say, the main thing is to wish each other a good, sweet year with all our heart – because that is what G‑d values the most.

Greeting Hebrew Meaning
Shanah tovah שָׁנָה טוֹבָה Good year
Shanah tovah umetukah שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה Good and sweet year
Gemar chatimah tovah גְּמַר חֲתִימָה טוֹבָה Good final sealing

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