One of the things Yom Kippur is best known for is the practice of fasting for the duration of the holiday. The purpose of the fast—which traditionally includes abstaining from food, drink, sex and bathing—is to purify the spirit and concentrate the mind on the theme of forgiveness and moral renewal. The fast begins at sundown when the holy day begins, and it ends at sundown the following evening, often with synagogues offering a small spread of food.

In traditional Jewish practice, children under 13 are not expected to fast. Neither are pregnant women, or anyone with a medical condition that fasting would exacerbate. The idea isn’t to create a health hazard—it’s a spiritual practice and nothing more.

Learn more about fasting on Yom Kippur and about other symbols and rituals during the High Holidays HERE.

InterfaithFamily is the premiere resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. Learn more at

Type of Custom: Commentary/Meditations

Holiday/Event: High Holidays