What Time Is Yom Kippur Over? Jewish Day of Atonement Ends at Sundown

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, will run from the end of the day on Wednesday through Thursday, during which those who observe the holiday will abstain from eating and drinking.

Also referred to as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur occurs annually on the 10th day of Tishrei on the Jewish calendar. However, because the Jewish calendar follows the Lunar calendar and not the Gregorian calendar, as is the case with Christian and secular holidays, the date of Jewish holidays vary year to year.

This year, Yom Kippur will begin at sundown on Wednesday and conclude at sundown on Thursday. Since sunset occurs at different times depending on where a person lives, people will begin and end their fast based on when the sun sets in their location.

Sunset is expected to occur on Thursday around 7:00 p.m. local time, according to Time and Date. The true end to the fast is marked with the blasting of the shofar, which indicates the conclusion of services.

It's logical to assume that Jewish holidays begin at sundown because it's a universal demarcation of time that doesn't rely on a clock or sundial. However, it's not just Jewish holidays that start at sundown, but all days on the Jewish calendar. According to Chabad, the decision to start days at sundown lies in Genesis, which says: "And it was evening, and it was morning; day one." Since evening is mentioned before morning, Chabad noted the Torah defines the day as beginning in the evening.

yom kippur ends sundown
Yom Kippur will end on Thursday night at sundown, an end that's marked with a long blast of the shofar. Above, Rabbi Guido Cohen blows into a shofar as he leads a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park in North Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Yom Kippur is believed to have originated with Moses after the Israelites left Egypt. While Moses was at the top of Mount Sinai, God gave him the Ten Commandments. When he returned, he found the Israelites worshipping a golden calf, which was considered a false idol. It prompted Moses in anger to shatter the tablets containing the Ten Commandments and return to Mount Sinai. He prayed for God's forgiveness for himself and the Israelites, later returning to his people with a second set of the Ten Commandments and God's forgiveness.

During Yom Kippur, those who observe the holiday spend the bulk of the day in synagogue engaged in prayer and services. Many Jews will refrain from working and will fast—although there are exceptions to who is expected to abstain from food and drink, particularly if it could cause a serious medical problem.

The level at which a person fasts varies, but some people will avoid brushing their teeth because of the use of water and put restrictions on bathing.

At the end of services on Thursday, family and friends will gather to break the fast. The meal often varies based on a family's own tradition, but often consists of food that can be served cold or room temperature since it's customary to spend the day in self-reflection and prayer. For many families, the meal includes bagels, lox and cold salads.