What Is the Best Thing To Say to Someone for Yom Kippur? The Main Purpose of Yom Kippur and Why It’s Important

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the Jewish year, but those who don't participate in the Jewish faith know pretty little about it: It isn't as bright and festive as Hanukkah, nor is it as publicized as Passover. What is the main purpose of Yom Kippur, why is it important and what is the best thing to say to someone for Yom Kippur, or what are the proper Yom Kippur greetings?

It's officially that time of the year. Learn the ins and outs of the Day of Atonement here and never have an awkward "Happy Yom Kippur!" moment again.

What is the main purpose of Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is a period of atonement for the Jewish community. It is a solemn period of fasting, not just from food, but also bathing, physical contact and work. It is considered the holiest day in the Jewish year.

Related: When Is Yom Kippur 2023? When Is Sukkot 2023? Everything To Know About These Jewish Holidays

What is Yom Kippur and why is it important?

Yom Kippur is a holy day marked by fasting, sacrifice and charity. The period is to be spent in prayer and asking for forgiveness for transgressions. The week before Yom Kippur is known as the 10 Days of Repentance and features special prayers. Yom Kippur is the final Day of Repentance.

In Jewish belief, after the Israelites fled and escaped Egypt, they worshiped a golden calf—a big no-no according to the 10 Commandments. This led Moses (the same mensch who led the Israelites out of Egypt) to climb Mt. Sinai to ask God to forgive them. God only relented following two 40-day periods at the peak of Mt. Sinai. Yom Kippur honors the day Moses came down from the mountain after God forgave the Israelites.

Related: What Is Rosh Hashanah? All About the Jewish New Year, Plus 15 Rosh Hashanah Greetings 

What is the best thing to say to someone for Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur Greetings

Many people who celebrate Yom Kippur don't appreciate it if you say "Happy Yom Kippur," as it doesn't fit the tone of the somber, reflective holiday. These Yom Kippur greetings honor the tone of the holiday, while also remaining festive for the ongoing Jewish New Year celebrations.

1. "G’mar chatima tovah." ("A good final sealing.")

2. "G'mar tov." ("A good final sealing," abbreviated)

3. "Tzom kal." ("Easy fast.")

4. "Tsom kal." ("Easy fast.")

5. "Chag sameach." ("Happy holiday.")

6. "Gut yontiff." ("Good day.")

7. "Yom tov." ("Good day.")

8. "Have a meaningful fast."

9. "Wishing you a good final sealing."

10. "Have a good holy day."

11. "Wishing you a good seal."

12. "Have an easy fast."

Related: 10 Traditional Jewish Recipes That Work for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah

13. "Shanah tovah." ("Happy new year.")

14. "Shanah tovah u'metuka." ("Have a sweet new year.")

15. "L'shanah tovah." ("Happy new year.")

16. "Ah gut gebentsht yohr." ("A good and blessed year.")

17. "May your sealing be sweet."

18. "Wishing you a meaningful Yom Kippur."

19. "May you be sealed in the Book of Life."

20. "Wishing you a meaningful fast."

21. "May your atonement be meaningful."

22. "Have a blessed Yom Kippur."

23. "Have a blessed fast."

24. "Have a good holiday."

25. "Warmest wishes for a meaningful holiday."

What does Yom Kippur literally mean?

In Hebrew, "Yom Kippur" translates literally to "Day of Atonement."

Next, celebrate the Jewish New Year with Andrew Zimmern’s Noodle Kugel!