The Yom Kippur Window

YK whole hi-resYom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, marks the culmination of the Ten Days of Returning. As the Gates of Repentance start to close we get a final glimpse at the three scrolls of the Book of Life. The panels on the Gates are inscribed with the letters yud and hey, spelling the name of God as Creator of the world.

Traditionally recited on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the Book of Jonah teaches that true repentance can alter our destiny by transforming our behaviour, and similarly that we should follow God’s example and be tolerant, merciful and forgiving to all people, even sinners, if they seek to ‘return’ to God – to make teshuvah.

A scarlet thread, tied to the horns of the scapegoat sent out into the wilderness, turns white showing that the sins of the people are forgiven.

Our prayers rise through the seven layers of heaven, like air bubbles rising through the sea from the mouth of Jonah’s fish. The ten bubbles have inscribed on them words from the opening prayer of the synagogue service. They count the quorum -minyan- which represents the community at prayer. In the heavens, flanking the near-full moon, the stars appear to indicate the end of Yom Kippur; while a single long note is sounded on the Shofar.