Some of you may know that I am Jewish and I just wanted to let you all know that this evening marks the start of Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Hebrew calendar. If there are others of the faith out there, I'd like to wish you a healthy and productive new year, which began on Rosh Hashonah, ten days ago.
For others, if you are interested, a little about this evening's traditions:
Kol Nidrei - Yom Kippur Eve
The opening prayer of Yom Kippur is the Kol Nidrei (or Kol Nidre) "annulment of vows" recited at sundown of Yom Kippur eve.
The Kol Nidrei service consists of the opening of the Ark and taking out the Torah scrolls, reciting the Kol Nidrei and returning the Torah scrolls to the Ark.
Kol Nidrei, the prayer which ushers in the holy day of Yom Kippur, is perhaps the most famous one in our liturgy. Ironically, it is not really a prayer at all, but rather a statement. A statement that deals with promises, vows and other sorts of verbal commitments commonly made in the course of the year. The Torah places strict demands on keeping one’s word, and not fulfilling a vow is considered a serious misdeed.
Kol Nidrei, which means "all vows", nullifies the binding nature of such promises in advance. One declares all future vows and promises invalid, by declaring that all vows are "absolved, remitted, cancelled, declared null and void, not in force of in effect." On Yom Kippur when the essence of the soul is fully revealed, we express our real attitude towards the imperfections which might slip into our behavior, in the coming year. They are thus denied and declared insignificant.