Spiritual. Egalitarian. Welcoming.
The final service of Yom Kippur is the Neilah service. Neilah literally means “closing” and refers to the symbolic closing of the gates of heaven and, hence, God’s willingness to hear the prayers of the Jewish people. There is, therefore, a spiritual urgency motivating prayer at this service, as the sun is beginning to set and most people are light-headed and exhausted from the long day of fasting and praying. The Neilah service builds in intensity until it concludes with a final Tekiah Gedolah, or great blast of the Shofar, the ram’s horn. This blast, usually blown as soon as the stars come out, signals the conclusion of the Day of Atonement.