Photo: The painting is a detail of “Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur” by the 22-year-old Maurycy Gottlieb c. 1878.
Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jews.
Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
The day’s central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or sometimes the Days of Awe.
High School athletic events and after-school activities are typically curtailed for the one day holiday.
Three years ago, the Belmont School Committee approved a pilot program to close school for one day in observance of the Jewish High Holidays beginning in the 2015-16 school year. A year later, after complaints from residents who declared the policy disruptive to the educational process and did not reflect the growing diversity within Belmont’s schools, all religious holidays were removed from the school calendar.