Modified from The Jewish Virtual LibraryYom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast (no food or drink) and attend synagogue services on this day.The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement.” It is a day set aside to atone for the sins of the past year. On Rosh Hashanah, G-d inscribes all of our names in the book of life. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in the book is sealed. This day is, essentially, our last appeal, our last chance to change the judgment, to make amends. On Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, one must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs committed against the person. We also do not wear leather shoes or engage in marital relations. As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a physician and a rabbi for advice. Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the shofar. It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow.
The Maccabeats - Book of Good Life