Yom Kippur prayers

In this guide we will learn about the course of the prayers on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, as is said in the Torah

“Because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins.”

On Beit Chabad’s Kippur website, you will learn the holy day’s rules and customs as well as everything you need to know about the holy day.

In addition, you can observe the kapparot mitzvah with Beit Chabad.

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The payment is made to the Beit Chabad Foundation, Sderot, under Tzeirei Agudat Chabad Bn No. 580134229

Table of Contents:


In this guide we will learn about the course of the prayers on Yom Kippur.

It is customary to wear white clothes (white kittel) and to be wrapped in a Tallit.

The holy day’s prayers are done during a full fast, read about why we fast on Yom Kippur.

Comprehensive review of Yom Kippur

The cycle of prayer

The Siddur on Yom Kippur is called a cycle.

The Yom Kippur prayers do not appear in the regular Siddur for the rest of the year. Usually, prayer in synagogues is done in cycles.

The prayers of Yom Kippur – at night

  1. Kol Nidrei
  2. Arvit
  3. Selichot

Kol Nidrei

The Kol Nidrei prayer is a unique prayer during which we declare that we cancel our vows taken in the past year.

The cantor stands with 3 people holding Torah books next to him.

According to Judaism, a man who said he would do a certain action, and did not make sure to say “no vow”, must not go against the words he said.

In order to be pure when Yom Kippur comes, we cancel our vows from the past year.

The tune of Kol Nidrei is one of the most famous tunes in the Jewish world.


We say an Arvit prayer that is adapted to the holy day, one of the changes in the Yom Kippur Arvit prayer is that we say “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto” out loud.

And not as a whisper, as is customary throughout the rest of year.


In the holy day’s Amidah prayers, we add a confession at the end – ‘for sins’ we have committed and confess our sins and transgressions (the full version appears in the cycle).

The custom is to lightly tap the chest with the right hand, when saying “for sins”.


Selichot are constructed from a list of odes describing the greatness of the holy day.

A famous ode begins the Selichot:

“May our supplication ascend
from the evening, and may our cry come from the morning, and may our song appear till evening..”

The prayers of Yom Kippur – Shacharit and Mussaf

The Shacharit prayer consists of the following parts:

  1. Pesukei dezimra.
  2. Reading Shema and its blessings.
  3. The Amidah prayer and the return of the cantor.
  4. Reading the torah (the Achrei Mot portion on the Cohen’s work during Kippur)
  5. The Yizkor prayer – in which we mention the souls of loved ones who have passed away.
  6. The Mussaf prayer.
  7. u’Netana Tokef
  8. The work order of a great Cohen during Yom Kippur.

The Mincha prayer and the Haftara of Jonah

The Mincha prayer begins with reading the Torah, in which we read the “Arayot portion”, which talks about the list of relatives one may not marry.

Unlike a regular Mincha prayer which begins with the ode “Ashrei”, on Yom Kippur we immediately begin with reading the Torah.

After reading the Torah, we read the Haftara of Jonah, which tells the story of Jonah the prophet, who tries to escape God’s command to tell the people of Nineveh to repent. Jonah is swallowed by a giant fish.

From inside the fish, Jonah prays for God to save him, the fish spits Jonah back out onto the shore, and Jonah fulfills his mission and finally manages to get all the people of Nineveh to repent.

This Haftara expresses a profound message, that God is always waiting for us to regret our transgressions and is willing to accept any man who repents.

It is wide held among the people of Israel that reading the Haftara of Jonah is a virtue that grants one wealth.

It is usually customary to sell it to the highest bidder.


The only time of the year in which 5 prayers are said is on Yom Kippur.

The prayer is called Neilah since it locks the day of Yom Kippur.

It is customary to open the Torah ark and to leave it open throughout the entire prayer.

See an expanded entry on the Neilah prayer


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Yom Kippur prayers

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