Yom Kippur


Torah shield for Yom Kippur. Óbuda, beginning of the 19th century. The 10th day after Rosh Hashanah is the most important holiday of Judaism: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Days between the two festivals are called Days of Awe, because according to the tradition, the fate of all people is “inscribed on the day of Rosh Hashanah, and is sealed on the day of Yom Kippur.” Yom Kippur is a strict day of fast; it is forbidden to eat or drink. Those with lingering feelings of anger have to make peace before the time of the festival, and for the sins committed in the previous year they should be forgiven.


Kittel and belt buckles. The first communal prayer service of Yom Kippur starts immediately prior to sunset on the evening of Yom Kippur. This service is called Kol Nidrei (“All Vows”). Men wear a white burial garment, called kittel, in the synagogue. It is traditional not to wear leather shoes on this evening but canvas or rubber shoes. Yom Kippur is often called in Hungarian the “Long Day”, referring to the observant Jews spending the whole day with praying, without eating or drinking at all. It is an Eastern European tradition to wear a belt buckle over the white burial robe. The inscriptions and symbols on the buckles all refer to content of the holiday.


Order of the priestly blessings. Part of the ceremony during each holiday presented in the exhibition hall is when the descendants of the tribe of Aaron, the so called Kohanim, bless the community. They say the ancient formula by opening their hands for the blessing gesture as depicted on the pages of the prayer book: “The Lord bless you and protect you! The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you! The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!” Óbuda, 1819.


Handwashing basin and pitcher. Kohanim first wash their hands and then recite the priestly blessing in slippers. Levites, the descendants of the tribe of Levi, pour water on the hands of Kohanim evoking the ceremony conducted in the Temple.