From the Desk - Yom Kippur
Does one make Kiddush at the meal before the fast?
No. It is not yet Yom Tov (or, this year, Shabbat), and it is effectively a weekday meal. It is fitting to begin the meal, both before and after the fast, with the Hamotzi blessing over a challah or loaf of bread, and to conclude with the Grace after Meals.
Does one light candles before Yom Kippur?
Yes. The widely accepted practice is to light candles in the Shabbat candlesticks (this year it is in fact also Shabbat), saying the traditional blessing over them, which in this case concludes, Lehadlik ner shel Shabbat veYom Hakippurim.
This is followed by the Shehecheyanu blessing.
Many people have the custom of lighting a Yahrzeit candle before Yom Kippur for all those they have lost.
What does one traditionally wear on Yom Kippur?
The tradition is, if possible, to wear white and not to wear jewelry. This is understood to be in imitation of the angels who (apparently!) dress in white. It also reminds us of shrouds, thus humbling the heart.
The services are long and often hard to follow; can I bring reading material to the synagogue?
Yes, certainly. Anything which stirs the heart and awakens the soul is appropriate. Concentration in the prayers does not mean following every word, but rather participating in the creation of an open spirit of heartfelt reflection.
It is a firm principle to give Tsedakah generously on (that is before and or after) Yom Kippur.