Erev Yom Kippur
The preparations for Yom Kippur are awe-inspiring. Just as one is required to fast on Yom Kippur, one is obligated to eat on the day before the holiday. We are confident that our teshuva (repentance) to a forgiving and compassionate God will justify His looking favorably upon us.
One of the ways that we demonstrate the seriousness of our repentance is through charitable gifts. The idea of preparing for Yom Kippur, our day of prayer and soul-searching by performing positive deeds of kindness and by helping the poor through donations is commendable.
The meal eaten on Erev Yom Kippur is unique in that since it is not a regular festival, there is no Kiddush or, perhaps no hamotzi (המוציא) if bread is not eaten. This meal is called סעודה המפסקת- seudah ha-mafseket: The Meal of Demarcation in that it does exactly that – separates the normal day from the upcoming fast. The Mincha service preceding the meal is expanded to include special prayers of repentance and sets the mood for the meal itself. The meal must conclude before candle lighting time.
Lighting the Candles
The candles are lit just as they are lit on each Friday night and holiday. The end of the blessing, however, refers specifically to יום הכיפורים – yom ha-kippurim In addition, special Yizkor/Yahrzeit candles are lit prior to the formal Yom Kippur candles. There is no blessing recited although one is encouraged to stop for a moment in devotion and recite a personal prayer in memory of a loved one.