JERUSALEM, Israel – Jews worldwide will observe Yom Kippur, starting sundown on Tuesday through Wednesday, the most solemn day of the Jewish year, with fasting and a special prayer.
The prayer is called the Viddui, a prayer of repentance and a plea for forgiveness.
Reverend David Pileggi serves as the rector of Christ Church in the heart of Jerusalem's Old City. He has studied the Jewish roots of Christianity for nearly 30 years.
"The Viddui is the central prayer of confession and for repentance of the Jewish people on Yom Kippur and it's a prayer they pray not only on behalf of themselves but on behalf of all Jewish people around the world," he explained.
He says the Viddui recognizes, as Jeremiah the prophet wrote, that "the heart is deceitful above all things" and that deeds need to follow repentance.
"One thing that we learn from the Jewish people, something quite important, especially about Yom Kippur is that it's not enough to say you're sorry," he said. "You have to confess, say you're sorry and then at the same time take practical steps to change your behavior."
The Viddui includes sections to be said both corporately and prayed by the individual. The group repeats confessions such as "We sinned before you. We betrayed you…We spoke falsely ... Now we want to repent and ask your forgiveness."
The individual prays in part, "O God and Father, maker of heaven and earth ... I penitently acknowledge my sins, desiring to learn what is Your will concerning me and resolving to devote myself more faithfully to Your holy service."
Pileggi says Christians can find a parallel between Yom Kippur and the teachings of Jesus.
"Now we have a saying of Jesus, don't we? It says, if you bring your gift to the altar and your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother," he said.
Pileggi continued, "Jewish tradition says go and get your relationship right with your neighbor, with your brother, with your family member, forgive and then be reconciled and then on the Day of Atonement when you begin to fast and pray and to confess, then God will hear your prayer and forgive you as you have forgiven others."
"The teaching of Jesus … it's also something that's part and parcel of Jewish tradition and here the two line up very nicely," he said.
Jewish holidays are based on the Hebrew calendar, varying year to year on the Gregorian calendar.