The Palestinian unit of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem downplayed the holiest day on the Jewish calendar as nothing more than a “local holiday.”
While the official embassy — which moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018 at the behest of then-President Donald Trump — wished “a meaningful Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to all those who observe this holy day,” the U.S. Palestinian Affairs Unit, which is part of the embassy, said only that its office would be closed Thursday “for the local holiday.”
The decision not to acknowledge the Jewish holy day came months after the embassy’s leaders posted a minute-long video observing the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
In April, the U.S. embassy wished “a meaningful and peaceful Ramadan” to “all our Muslim friends observing the holy month.”
CBN News correspondent Julie Stahl explained the religious heritage of Yom Kippur:
The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the “Ten Days of Awe.” This is one’s chance, so to speak, to get his or her heart and relationships right before Yom Kippur. According to Jewish tradition, this is the time that one’s name is either inscribed or not in the Book of Life for another year.
“These are heavy, heavy days of repentance, reflection, and seeking God’s face as we prepare to go stand before Him in a state of fasting, a state of humility on the day of Yom Kippur,” says Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion.
In some traditions, worshippers pray Selichot or slichot prayers (“forgiveness”) as much as a month before Rosh Hashanah to make sure they are prepared for that day.
“The Bible speaks about Yom Kippur in terms of being a great day of judgment, of us standing before God. It’s traditionally, according to a Jewish perspective, a time in which we will literally be standing before the Father on that Day of Judgment,” says Michael.
It is tradition to wear white on Yom Kippur. Some men will even wear white robes, a practice rooted in Isaiah 1:18, in which God says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.”
Yom Kippur has a total of five prayers services throughout the day, more than any other holiday on the Jewish calendar.
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