Yom Kippur is considered to be one of the most important and holiest holidays in the Jewish calendar. “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement,” which refers to the yearly Jewish observance of fasting, prayer and repentance. This Jewish holiday is part of the High Holidays – which also includes Rosh Hashanah.

Yom Kippur falls at the 10th day of Tishri, and this year, it begins the evening of October 11 and ends the evening of October 12.

Here’s everything you need to know about Yom Kippur.


Fasting is an act of fulfilling the biblical commandment to “practice self-denial.” The fast enables putting aside physical desires to instead focus on spiritual needs. These spiritual needs are actualized through prayer, repentance, and self-improvement.

Fasting happens for at least one day during each major Jewish holiday. During Yom Kippur, the fast happens for a full 24-hour period from after the Erev Yom Kippur meal until the following evening. During this time, no eating or drinking is permitted.

According to the tradition, all females from the age of 12 and all males from the age of 13 must fast. The practice is very important during this occasion, but it isn’t strict for people whose health might be negatively affected by taking a complete fast. Judaism celebrates an appreciation for life, and those who are too ill to fast (or to fast for the whole 24 hours) are exempted from this aspect of Yom Kippur.

Breaking the Fast

Break-fast, not to be confused with breakfast, refers to meals after the fast days of holidays like Yom Kuppur. Households do break-fast in different ways: homemade treats, catering, and even large parties! Nowadays, it’s not just about your immediate family, as family friends are also included in the celebration of breaking the fast.

There are no strict rules when it comes to what food should be eaten, but it is a tradition to consume comforting and light foods that can be prepared ahead of time (as everyone is hungry and they don’t want to wait for food to cook!). Dairy dishes are traditionally served and strong spices are avoided because the stomach will still be sensitive after fasting.

Some dishes that are typically associated with this celebration include bagels and lox, baked casserole-style dishes, assorted cookies and cakes. Bagels and lox are really a staple – it wouldn’t be the same without them!

After Yom Kippur

The night after Yom Kippur is called the “Motza Yom Kippur” – it means “the exiting of Yom Kippur.” After the Yom Kippur ends, Havdalah must be said – the “Separation Recital” – before eating or doing anything. This ritual is performed over a goblet of wine.

Is all this talk about fasting making you hungry?

Celebrate Yom Kippur with all your favorite dishes. Catering by Michaels offers traditional menus and delights that are perfect for the holiday. After 24 hours of fasting, you deserve a spread that satisfies! 

View our Yom Kippur menu and call us at (847) 966-6555 to set up catering for your festivities.