I will be working in India during this High Holiday season. On Yom Kippur I will be in an area with no synagogues, and I was wondering what to do. I know I can fast but what about the services? What does the Torah say about attending temple on Yom Kippur? Is it something that is required or can I read the Torah and associated portions on my own in these circumstances? Should I be looking into flying somewhere close that will have a synagogue? Any other suggestions would be much appreciated.


You are correct in your observation that you will be limited as to what you will be able to do on your own on Yom Kippur. The Torah can only be read from a scroll when there are ten men (a "minyan") present; however, you certainly can read for yourself the Yom Kippur Torah readings from your machzor (High Holiday prayer book). In addition, there are certain parts of the prayer that can only be said with a minyan, as well; such as the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy. Most importantly, there is certain dimension of prayer that is attained when doing so in a quorum; the larger the group the more powerful, and the more acceptable, the prayer.

Therefore I suggest that you try to find the closest synagogue for Yom Kippur and join them for services. Chabad has services in many, many locations — yes, even in India (click here for Chabad's Indian outposts). You can use our Chabad House Locator to find any Chabad Center worldwide. I understand that this may be challenging for you, and you may incur some financial obligations on this account. However, as it seems from your letter, you appreciate the importance of attending Yom Kippur service.

If you will be unable to join a Yom Kippur service, you will be able to fast and you will also be able to pray (minus those few prayers referenced above). Just be sure to bring along with you a machzor. You can purchase one at your local Judaica store or at our on-line Judaica store.

Also, be sure to visit our Yom Kippur section where you can find invaluable information concerning this holiest day of the year; info that you can use wherever you will find yourself on Yom Kippur.

Wishing you a Shana Tova,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan,