Yom Kippur Guest Etiquette

September 13, 2013    |    By +
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Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, is one of the two holiest of Jewish holidays, the other being Rosh Hashanah. It is the sound off to the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the end of the High Holy Days. Before you start planning your holiday outfit and picking the party playlist, know that this particular holiday has more of a somber feel to it. Beginning sundown, Friday Sept. 13th, observers will be fasting for 24 hours straight until sundown the next day. No food, drink, work or the use of electronics are allowed during this time. Basically, the only activity one who observes Yom Kippur can partake in, is that of praying for forgiveness for wrongdoings and attending synagogue services to hopefully begin a New Jewish Year on a good and positive note.

So when you hear “fasting for 24 hours,” the words “gifts” and “get-togethers” don’t really come to mind, but on Yom Kippur families and friends do gather together before the beginning of the fast and break bread with each other when it ends. Some might even be invited to spend the hours of starvation and boredom with others to pass the time.

If you are invited to a meal before the Yom Kippur Fast:

I always like to think of this meal as the calm before the storm. It should be a time to enjoy family and friends’ company amidst an abundance of good food, before everything gets more serious. You can take this opportunity to gift your hosts a fabulous gift for the home they can use once Yom Kippur is over; see our housewarming gift guide. You can also choose a gift, like the beautiful Oval Oak Wine Carafe, that would aptly express your gratitude in being included for the meal. Be sure to see our Host/Hostess gift guide for more great finds.

wine carafe

If you are invited to spend the fast with someone:

Gift them something that would make their fast a little easier and will help with passing the time. Board games, books, or a stack of magazines would be a good idea. I also like the idea of bringing a puzzle.  The 1,000 piece Art of Life puzzle would be a fun and appropriate gift.


If you are invited to break the fast with someone:

My family and I have a tradition when we break the fast on Yom Kippur. Because, it signifies the beginning of the New Year, we like to start it off by toasting with sweet wine or liquor and nibbling on cake and cookies before we get to the good stuff: the bagels! A sweet kosher gift idea would be the Fairytale Brownies Magic Morsel. Bringing kosher wine or a dozen of bagels (we love our bagels) will also do the trick.

Fairy Tale Brownies Magic Morsel

On behalf of us all at Gifts.com, we wish you and your family a safe and easy fast!


“Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur,” painted in 1878 by Maurycy Gottlieb. The original painting lives at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

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Posted in Etiquette, Upcoming Holidays    


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Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at Gifts.com. She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at Gifts.com. In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.