Yom Kippur, the day of atonement in the Jewish calendar, begins at sunset tonight, September 29. Jewish people are encouraged to spend the following day reflecting on their actions of the past year and repenting for any wrongs they may have committed.
Since Yom Kippur takes place 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, it's often viewed as an opportunity to start the year on a centered and renewed note. This pursuit of spiritual purity in the new year is seen most clearly in the customary fasting associated with Yom Kippur, says Rabbi Yonah Hain of Columbia/Barnard Hillel.
The specific rules to the fast cover a wide range, he says, but all of them point toward a common goal: to emulate a kind of morality in the hopes of transcending your earthly form (at least for a day). Ahead, we spoke with Rabbi Hain about the specific customs of this day.