MINSK, 9 October (BelTA) – Forty days of spiritual cleansing finish with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The Jews observe this day with fasting, repentance, and absolution. Yom Kippur begins half an hour before sundown on 8 October and continues until the third star appears on the sky in the evening of 9 October. During the festival eating and drinking is entirely forbidden for everyone except children under the age of nine. The Yom Kippur prayer service is the most complex and solemn. The service lasts almost all day with short breaks. The Jewish people spend the day atoning for their sins and praying to God for absolution. A special memorial prayer called Yizkor is recited in a synagogue on Yom Kippur.
At the closing of Yom Kippur the concluding prayer (Ne'ila) is recited, the Gates of Heaven are closed until the next year. The end of the fasting is marked by the blowing of the shofar (a ram's horn), and tables are loaded with sweets – the symbol of sweet life in the coming year.
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