KIHEI - Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, considered to be the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, will be celebrated today and Saturday by the Jewish Congregation of Maui.
Erev Yom Kippur Services will begin today at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m., which will be followed by the Kol Nidre service at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, the Yom Kippur morning service will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the Mincha service at 4 p.m., Yizkor at 5 p.m., Neila service at 6:15 p.m. and Havdalah and the breaking of the fast at 7 p.m.
Yom Kippur marks the end of the 10 Days of Awe/Yamim Nora'im that begins with Rosh Hashanah. The 10 days are a reminder that a person is suspended between two days of judgment. On Rosh Hashanah, the righteous are inscribed for life, the wicked for death, while the intermediate remain in suspense until Yom Kippur when the Book of Life is sealed. The performance of good deeds and true repentance can sway the balance to set one on the path of a promising new year, a news release from the Jewish Congregation of Maui said.
Many Jews purify themselves in a mikvah, or ritual bath, on the eve of Yom Kippur. Eating, drinking and all bodily pleasures are prohibited on Yom Kippur. White clothing is customarily worn with shoes that are not made of leather.
On Yom Kippur, Jewish mystics believe that God descends through the spheres of heaven to dwell among the people. It is at this time that God is most accessible to the people. On this day, Jews around the world repent and ask God to forgive and pardon transgressions and to grant atonement for their sins.
The days of repentance and atonement are followed by the Sukkot festival days filled with rejoicing and praise. On the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei or Wednesday the eight-day festival begins as stated in the Torah.
During this time, Jewish people build a sukkah/temporary booth to acknowledge and remember that through God's help, the Hebrews left slavery in Egypt and dwelt in temporary booths for 40 years before being allowed into the land of Israel. In the sukkah, Jewish people eat their meals, spend family time together and even sleep. The sukkah also is a dwelling for the Shechinah/Divine Presence.
The Jewish Congregation of Maui will build its sukkah Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The community is invited to participate with those attending encouraged to bring natural items such as coconut husks, protea, red berries, shells, pine cones, dried flowers such as hydrangea and fruits and nuts on branches.
The sukkah will remain open for those wishing to eat their meals inside, study and pray throughout the holiday as well as bless the lulav.
Shemini Atzeret is a separate festival from Sukkot, otherwise known as the Eighth Day of Assembly, when Jews pray for rain. On this day, the last portion of the Torah is read, and it is then rewound back to the beginning where the first portion is read to restart the cycle. It takes an entire year to read all the portions of the Torah on their designated days. Traditionally, Jews rejoice, dance, sing and praise God in honor and celebration of the Torah.
At the Jewish Congregation of Maui, those services and activities follow:
* Wednesday, Erev Sukkot evening service, 6.
* Thursday, Sukkot morning service, 9:30.
* Oct. 14, Second Day of Sukkot morning, 9:30; Shabbat Evening Service, 6.
* Oct. 15, Shabbat Morning Service, 10.
* Oct. 19, Eve of Shmini Atzeret Service, 6 p.m.
* Oct. 20, Shemini Atzeret morning service including Geshem, the prayer for rain; reading of Kohelet/Ecclesiastes and Yizkor service, 9:30; Simchat Torah evening service with dancing, 6.
* Oct. 21, Simchat Torah morning service with dancing, 9:30. Everyone will be called to the Torah including children; Shabbat Evening Service, 6.
The Jewish Congregation of Maui's services are at Beit Shalom Synagogue, 634 Alulike St. in Kihei. For more information, call 874-5397, send email to email@example.com or go to www.mauijews.org.