I'll be observing my first yom kippur this year (I'm still in the process of converting) and attending services at shul - is there any thing I shouldn't do as a non-Jew?

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    If this question is practically relevant to you, I recommend that you check with your rabbi before acting on anything you read here. Your title mentions "services," but your body talks instead about observance. Are you asking about the synagogue service, private observance, or both?
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 12, 2013 at 13:52
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    both, confusing sorry. I will be fasting and I have not yet been assigned a personal Rabbi. I've been attending services at a Chabad shul and I know the Rabbi doesn't do conversions so I don't want impose on him by asking him...
    – Malka S
    Sep 12, 2013 at 14:02
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    It's part of his job to answer Halachic questions. If you are pursuing conversion and don't yet have contact with a rabbi to pose questions to, whether that rabbi is actually helping manage your conversion or not, now's probably not a bad time to establish such a contact. judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9146/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 12, 2013 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


I can't think of anything that's done at a yom kippur service that would be an issue.

On "yes-cook" holidays, there's the issue that cooking can only be done for Jews; so if you were invited to a Jew's house for Rosh Hashana lunch, you should (for instance) put the tea bag in your own cup of fresh boiling water, rather than have your Jewish host do it. But Yom Kippur is a "no-cook" day (just like a regular Shabbat), so I really can't think of anything.

Show up dressed appropriately, with non-leather shoes; be respectful of the people around you, and try to follow what the crowd is doing; if you need to step out and eat, do so discreetly. I really can't think of anything else to worry about.

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    What about accepting honorary roles in the service (e.g. opening the ark)?
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 12, 2013 at 14:42
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    I doubt that will be an issue. It's a Chabad shul and I've yet to see a woman opening the ark. Furthermore, Rabbi knows that I'm converting.
    – Malka S
    Sep 12, 2013 at 14:48
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    @MahaliaSamuels, I suspected as much, but the question doesn't seem to be restricted to women or to situations where the shul officials know that the person is a non-Jew.
    – Isaac Moses
    Sep 12, 2013 at 18:48
  • @MalkaS note that a non-Jew is not allowed to keep Shabbos in full, so carry something (such as a pen in an inside pocket) so that you do not violate this prohibition. Check with the Rabbi for details. Sep 17, 2015 at 16:32
  • Rambam hilchos milachim chapter ten ט עכו''ם שעסק בתורה חייב מיתה. לא יעסוק אלא בשבע מצות שלהן בלבד. וכן עכו''ם ששבת אפילו ביום מימות החול. אם עשאהו לעצמו כמו שבת חייב מיתה. ואין צריך לומר אם עשה מועד לעצמו. The fact that Yom Kippur is a holiday makes it more disallowed to observe than if it would be a regular shabbos.
    – user6591
    Sep 18, 2015 at 17:02

The only part of the Yom Kippur service that you probably should not participate in is Yizkor, the prayer for deceased relatives. Hopefully Yizkor does not apply to you anyway, i.e. your parents, siblings and spouse are all alive. If you would, as a Jew, be obligated to say Yizkor, G-d forbid, it would be very important to confirm with a rabbi if you should participate in Yizkor pre-conversion. Some, as I understand it, state a Ger/Convert never says Yizkor for a non-Jewish relative. I wish you much success on your continued spiritual journey to Judaism and I wish you Shana Tova and an "easy fast."

  • What do you mean "God forbid [someone have to say Yizkor]"?? Hopefully, all the nonagenarians are saying it. May God prevent anyone younger from saying it, but everyone should merit to say it at some point.
    – Double AA
    Sep 13, 2013 at 2:54
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    I see your point Double AA. What I meant was hopefully Mahalia's family is alive and well and that he has not yet "merited" saying Yizkor/Yahrzeit. I don't know if you have to recite Kaddish but my parents are both dead As a middle aged man I'd rather have my mom and dad alive than have the merit of saying yizkor and yahrzeit for the past 13 years.
    – JJLL
    Sep 13, 2013 at 3:54
  • .....Since I am the only one in my extended family who is even remotely observant I have taken upon myself to also say yizkor/yahrzeit for my grandparents and great grandmother. No one else is going to do it so I do it. If I really went all out and also lit candles for my aunts and uncles I'd be fined by the fire department for creating a potential fire hazard! So yes, Double AA, may Mahalia one day merit honoring his parents, but from my perspective, may that day be in the distant future!
    – JJLL
    Sep 13, 2013 at 3:55
  • I said "nonagenarian". I don't know how long until Mahalia joins that group.
    – Double AA
    Sep 13, 2013 at 3:56
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22110/759
    – Double AA
    Sep 13, 2013 at 5:53

I saw an article where Rabbi Israel Chait addresses your question for Bnei Noach. I thought you might like his comments.

Here is the link for the article on Mesora.org

Here is a copy:

Noahides and Rosh Hashanna

Rabbi Israel Chait


What is appropriate behavior for Noahides on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? I want to be very careful not to transgress by doing more than is permitted, not creating festivals for myself. But it seems to me – please let me know if I am mistaken – that at least Rosh Hashana is relevant to the whole world and perhaps I should mark it in some way. And finally, I would like to know if there are particular prayers from the Siddur that are permissible for the Noahide to pray.

Rabbi Israel Chait:

The Noachide should know that he too is judged on Rosh Hashanna by God just as the Jew and the rest of mankind. He therefore should pray all the prayers that the Jew prays, as he too is loved by God and through his repentance and prayer will be received by God and inscribed for a good year. Of course he must make some minor adjustments so that the prayer makes sense. For instance, instead of saying "our God and the God of our fathers", he can say "our God and the God of our Patriarchs" since he is not a direct descendant of the Patriarchs. But such obvious points are minor although they do require some awareness of what one is saying. But other than that technical point, all of the prayers, even the piyut (additional prayers) are applicable and beneficial to the Noachide as it is to the Jew. Indeed, the whole theme of Rosh Hashanna is that there is one Creator of the universe and all God's creatures should recognize Him. What then can be more correct before God than to have the Ben Noach recognize Him and pray to Him on this day? Indeed the Ben Noach is in a very special position to do an act that has a special value, a dimension which his unique position allows him to accomplish, which the Jew cannot. As it says in the prayers, "Let all those who dwell on the Earth recognize and know that [only] to You shall every knee bow down...and all shall accept the yoke of Thy kingdom..and God shall be the king of the entire Earth and He and His name shall be one." The Ben Noach prayer has a very special place before God as part of the fulfillment of His words. May the one who asked the question be blessed with all of God's blessings for a wonderful and a spiritually fulfilling year. There is one last point. In order not to violate making a holiday for himself since he is not commanded, the Ben Noach should not treat the day as a holiday by making it festive or imposing any prohibitions on himself. ■

  • see also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30748/759
    – Double AA
    Sep 12, 2013 at 22:29
  • @DoubleAA Thanks! I posted it there as well.
    – RCW
    Sep 12, 2013 at 22:34
  • In fact, I think it only belongs there. The answer doesn't address Yom Kippur at all.
    – Double AA
    Sep 12, 2013 at 22:48

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