By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

Today marks Judaism's holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. From sunset Friday to nightfall today, Jewish residents in the greater Killeen area will spend the day engaged in numerous prayer services and ancient traditions, all in the name of atoning for their sins.

"Yom Kippur literally means the day of atonement," said Chaplain Moshe Lans, a captain with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, and Fort Hood's rabbi. "It's all about repentance."

Repentance takes on a slightly different meaning in Judaism than the concept of forgiveness for sins in Christianity. The Hebrew tradition of "teshuva," which means "to return" is the way of atoning for sin.

Most notably, the day is marked by a fast, from sunset Friday to sundown today. Lans said fasting should only be observed by those who are physically able to endure the long process; children, the elderly and the sick are exempt.

In addition to the 25-hour fast, several rules are observed, including no bathing or washing, no wearing perfumes or lotions, and no wearing of leather shoes.

"Leather initially was seen as something accessible only to the rich," said Lans. "You want to come together, collectively as a community."

On Yom Kippur, through actions like fasting, wearing white and prayer, the observant becomes closer to the state of the ultimate servants of God, angels.

"Angels are pure. Angels do nothing but serve God. Unlike man, they have no free will," he said. "We are elevated physically on Yom Kippur. We're not eating. We're not concentrating on our own needs. We're more spiritual."

Services start on Friday night, with a reading of the Kol Nidre at sunset. The Kol Nidre, which means "all vows," is more of a statement than a prayer, said Lans. Recited in Aramaic, it asks God to nullify the vows of the coming year.

"We're going before God. This is a new year, and the restrictions from last year are no longer permissible," he said.

Several prayer services are observed throughout Yom Kippur, including a morning worship and afternoon worship.

The end of the last service of Yom Kippur is marked by the blowing of a shofar, a ram's horn with vibrant symbolism in Judaism.

Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but at the last minute, a ram appeared and God told Abraham to sacrifice it instead.

"When Abraham was tested by God, God chose a ram to get caught in the thicket," Lans said. "That's why we blow the shofar. It reminds us of our lineage."

All services planned by Lans will be at the Spirit of Fort Hood Warrior and Family Chapel Campus on Tank Destroyer Boulevard at 31st Street. For more information, call Lans at (619) 328-7469 or email

Contact Rebecca Rose at

Yom Kippur

(Day of Atonement)

Morning worship service begins at 10 a.m.

Yitzkor (Memorial Service) about 12:30 p.m.

Afternoon worship service begins at 5:30 p.m.

Neilah worship service begins at 6:30 p.m.

Final shofar blowing at 7:45 p.m.

Havdallah ceremony (Conclusion of Yom Kippur/Shabbat) at 7:46 p.m.

Fellowship/break the fast meal in the chapel after Havdallah.

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