Yom Kippur is the High Holy "Day of Atonement," the holiest day of the Jewish year, and a day of somber reflection. Knowing how to greet your Jewish friends and associates during Yom Kippur properly shows you care and can also help you avoid using inappropriate Yom Kippur greetings.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: The Days of Awe
The Days of Awe include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days between. On Rosh Hashanah, God inscribes a person's fate in "The Book of Life," and a time of renewal begins when God suspends judgment. Individuals have ten days to change their fate, but on Yom Kippur, fates are sealed.
Yom Kippur Date
Yom Kippur is always celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Tishrei on the Jewish lunisolar calendar. On the Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur falls sometime in September or October. Yom Kippur is a day of fasting from food, bathing, physical contact, and work. Most observant Jews spend the day in synagogue services, confessing and praying for forgiveness for their past year's sins.
Traditional Yom Kippur Greetings
There are traditional Yom Kippur greetings for Jewish people to say to one another during this time of the year.
G'mar Chatimah Tovah
G'mar Chatimah Tovah (pronounced ge-MAR chah-tee-MAH tow-VAH) means "A good final sealing" or "G'mar tov." ("A good final sealing," abbreviated)
G'mar Hatimah Tovah
G'mar Hatimah Tovah (pronounced guh-MAHR khah-tee-MAH toe-VAH) means "may you be sealed for a good year."
Yom tov is Hebrew for "good day"
Tzom Kal (pronounced tzome kahl) means "easy fast."
If You're Not Jewish
Even if you're not Jewish, it's considerate and respectful to share well wishes to your Jewish friends and colleagues on Yom Kippur. Just remember that Yom Kipper isn't a day of celebration; it's a solemn and pensive day. Greeting like "Merry Yom Kippur!" and "Happy Yom Kippur!" are not appropriate. However, if the Hebrew greetings above have you stumbling on your words, you can use the English translations, or you could simply say or write.
- Have an easy fast.
- Have a meaningful fast.
- Have an easy and meaningful fast.
- May your atonement be meaningful.
- Have a good year.
- A good fast, and a fortunate year.
- Have a good holy day.
- Yom Kippur blessings and forgiveness.
- A meaningful fast and day of reflection.
Send Your Greeting at the Right Time
On the Gregorian calendar, Yom Kipper does not fall on the same day each year, so make sure you have the correct date. Additionally, many observers of Yom Kippur do not use technology during the holiday. So, if you want to share a virtual greeting, send it before Yom Kippur or after the fast has been broken.
Be Warm and Sincere
Yom Kippur isn't a day of sadness. Jewish people aren't mourning their past missteps; they're facing up to them and sincerely repenting so they can start the following year with a clean slate. Jewish people have faith that their sins have been forgiven, so Yom Kippur ends on a high. Still, you should keep in mind the solemn, contemplative nature of the day and make your Yom Kippur greetings warm and sincere. If you're still unsure of how your Jewish friends and associates prefer to be greeted on Yom Kippur, just ask!