Yom Kippur
An Ultra Orhodox Jews take part in the ritual Kapparot ceremony Getty

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jewish People. Regarded as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths", Jewish people traditionally observe the day with a 25-hour fasting period and intensive prayer.

We look at interesting facts about Yom Kippur:

Sandy Koufax

The American Hall of Fame baseball player garnered national attention for his decision not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series for Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers because it fell on Yom Kippur. The case became a high-profile example of the conflict between social pressures and personal beliefs.

Don Drysdale, a Major League baseball player, took Koufax's place and played badly. Afterwards, he told manager Walter Alston as he was pulled from the game: "I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too."

Customary greeting

A customary greeting on Yom Kippur includes wishing individuals an "easy fast", Gmar Chatimah Tovah (may you be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year by God) and L'Shanah Tovah (for a good year) in Hebrew.

Sandy Koufax
Baseball player Sandy Koufax drew attention to the problem of social pressures and personal beliefs Getty


Yom Kippur services conclude with closing prayers and the blowing of the shofar, a musical instrument carved from the horn of a ram.

The shofar is mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and in rabbinic literature, and all pitch control is done by varying the player's embouchure.

Prayers for those who have died

In the morning, the Shaharit, (daily prayer), begins the day. It is similar to other morning services but includes additional poems, known as piyutim.

Next is the Yizkor, a memorial prayer for those whose parents have died. The Musaf is the longest service of the year and contains two parts: one which recounts the temple service, and the second describes the ten Jewish wise men tortured to death by the Romans.

Tennis dispute

In 2013, the International Tennis Federation attempted to fine the Israel Tennis Association over $13,000 (£8,000) for the inconvenience of having to reschedule a tennis match between the Israeli and Belgian teams that was originally scheduled on Yom Kippur.

Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, honorary secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue synagogue, poses with a shofar horn inside the synagogue in New Delhi
Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, head of the Jewish community in New Delhi, poses with a shofar Reuters

Israel holiday

Yom Kippur is a legal holiday in the modern state of Israel. Radio or television broadcasts are halted, airports are shut down and there is no public transportation. Shops and businesses are closed.

Yom Kippur War

In 1973, an air raid siren was sounded on the afternoon of Yom Kippur and radio broadcasts were resumed to alert the public to the surprise attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria that launched the Yom Kippur War.


Yom Kippur falls each year on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which is nine days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah, (the Jewish New Year).

Live fowl

Some Orthodox Jews hold a live fowl over their heads as atonement for sin. The fowl is killed and given to the poor.

Instead of an actual bird, some Jews use a bag of money symbolising the price of the bird. This is the ancient custom of Kapparot and is practiced during the afternoon before Yom Kippur begins.