More than likely you know a Jewish person, or maybe you even have a Jewish friend. I assume you’ve had the privilege to learn about the Jewish holidays.
Today, at sundown, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah will come to an end. Yet Jewish people are only a few days into the 10 Days of Awe. What started on New Year’s Eve will end next week, on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement and is considered the holiest day for every Jew. As commanded by the Torah, Jewish people are required to fast for 25 hours during this holiday.
And you, the gentile friend, may or may not know all of the above. Okay, I get it—I see you getting lost. I hear you stumble with your greeting or say the wrong thing. It’s the same for me. I don’t know enough about other religions, their holidays and their customs or greetings.
Let me try to help you out.
The most appropriate way to greet a Jewish person on Yom Kippur is to say: Easy Fast or in the Hebrew version, Tzom Kal.
G’mar Hatima Tova, is probably the most traditional Hebrew phrase. The English version has a similar phrase, May you be Sealed/Inscribed (in the Book of Life).
Happy New Year and L’Shana Tova are still accepted on Yom Kippur.
Don’t wish your friend Happy Holiday on Yom Kippur—simply because it is not a happy holiday.
Avoid asking your Jewish friend if they are going to fast—it is probably not a good idea to put them on the spot. Though many Jewish people will fast on Yom Kippur, those who choose not to will do it in a very modest way as not to tempt those who are fasting.
Keep it simple and respectful.
Happy New Year and G'mar Chatima Tova.