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YN-YZ Archives | Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia
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YOD.

Tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; numerically, ten.

YOM KIPPUR.

Literally, Day of Atonement. Regarded as the holiest day in the year and known as “the Sabbath of Sabbaths,” Shabbat Shabbaton. A day of appeal for the forgiveness of sins, it is marked by fasting from sundown of the ninth to sunset of the tenth of Tishri. Because the rituals of repentance can absolve one only of sins committed against God and His law, the eve of the holiday is the appropriate time for asking the forgiveness of those whom one has offended. It is also customary among traditional Jews to offer kapparot, or atonement, on the eve of the fast. In the past, this was a colorful ceremony in which a live rooster or hen was swung around the head of each member of the family to recall the ancient sin-offerings. Today, a special money gift to charity is more common. During the ceremony, the head of the house recites the words, “This is my atonement, this is my forgiveness.”

The Yom Kippur service is the longest in the Jewish liturgy. It begins with the chanting of the mournful Kol Nidre just before sunset on the eve of the holiday. This prayer, composed before the 9th century C.E., asks for release from vows or promises made that cannot be kept. Prayers continue throughout the next day. Famous portions of the service include the Viddui, or confession of sins, and the Seder Avodah , or Order of Worship, attributed to the poet Yosi ben Yosi of Palestine, during the 4th or 5th century C.E. This long narrative describes the Yom Kippur service in the Temple. It reaches its climax with the entrance of the High Priest to the Holy of Holies to beg forgiveness for his own sins and those of the entire people. The Yom Kippur service concludes with the Neilah, or closing, so called because it refers to the closing of the gates of heaven at the end of the day. A single shofar blast and the words “Next year in Jerusalem!” terminate the fast.

YOM KIPPUR WAR.

Despite Israel’s overwhelming victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 and its oft-repeated offers of peace, its Arab neighbors refused to enter into negotiations with Israel or even to recognize its existence. On Yom Kippur 5734 (October 6, 1973), Egyptian and Syrian armies crossed the 1967 ceasefire lines on the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights, respectively. Israel was caught off guard, since it had not expected its neighbors to launch an all-out war at that time. Also, in contrast to the situation in 1967, Israel’s air force was greatly hampered by new, highly effective anti-aircraft missiles with which the Soviet Union had supplied both Egypt and Syria gradually since the Six-Day War. Egypt succeeded in establishing bridgeheads east of the Canal, and Syria captured Mt. Hermon and the city of Kuneitra. Until Israel was able to mobilize its reserves, the outcome of the war was in doubt. On October 12, however, the tide began to turn in Israel’s favor. Israeli forces recaptured all the territory taken by Syria, pushed the Syrian armies behind the 1967 cease-fire lines and eventually advanced to positions about 20 miles away from Damascus. On October 17, the Israelis crossed the Suez Canal, eventually coming within about 50 miles of Cairo. All the while, Russia had been constantly sending arms shipments to Syria and Egypt to replace the vast quantities of airplanes and tanks they had lost. Under the circumstances, and in view of Israel’s heavy losses, particularly of airplanes, the U.S. began a massive airlift of weapons to Israel.

As long as the Arabs appeared to be winning the war, Russia did not seek an end to the fighting. But as Israel gained the upper hand, Russia summoned Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Moscow and began to press for a ceasefire. On October 24, finally, all fighting ceased. Israel had lost almost 3,000 soldiers; Arab losses were close to 20,000. On November 11, 1973, Israel and Egypt signed a ceasefire agreement at Kilometer 101 on the Suez-Cairo highway, and four days later, the two sides began to exchange prisoners of war.

On May 29, 1974, Syria, the most implacable of Israel’s enemies, agreed to sign a disengagement pact with Israel under terms to those agreed upon by Israel and Egypt. One June 5, 1974, the agreement between Israel and Syria was signed in Geneva.

YOUNG ISRAEL.

In 1912, a group of fifteen young men and women in New York City established the first Young Israel organization. Their purpose was to make traditional Judaism attractive to Jewish youth and to increase their Jewish education and awareness. In 1915, Young Israel opened its first model synagogue. The new synagogue featured decorum during services, a sermon in English, and congregational participation and singing. By 1998, Young Israel had some 150 affiliated branches in the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel, serving about 25,000 member families. Each Young Israel branch conducts services in its own synagogue, in strict conformance with traditional requirements. All branches offer an educational program for all age groups, placing particular emphasis on traditional Judaism. The National Council of Young Israel maintains the Young Israel Institute for Jewish Studies. Its youth department trains future leaders of the movement and sponsors the Young Israel Boy Scout Troop. Its employment bureau specializes in securing positions for Sabbath observers and part-time or vacation jobs for youngsters in school. Its armed forces division extends material and spiritual aid to Orthodox boys in the U.S. armed services. Young Israel supports major Jewish relief agencies throughout the world and the rebuilding of Israel. The official publication of the organization is the Young Israel Viewpoint.

YOUNG JUDEA.

Organized in 1909 to help young American Jews develop healthy attitudes toward themselves, the Jewish people, and Israel. Its first president was Israel Friedlaender and such prominent Zionists as Henrietta Szold and Emanuel Newmann have been leaders. Under the auspices of Hadassah Zionist Youth Commission, Young Judea is provided with funds and administration, as well as with supervision and guidance. Young Judea provides cultural, religious, and recreational programs for Jewish young people up to age 18. It supports a youth farm in Israel for the benefit of Jewish scouts and those young Judeans who visit Israel. Young Judea maintains Tel Yehuda, a camp for high school youngsters which offers training in leadership. Young Judea sponsors both a summer-in-Israel course for seniors and a more intensive year-in-Israel course.

YOUNG MEN'S AND YOUNG WOMEN'S HEBREW ASSOCIATION.

Popularly known as Y.M.H.A. and Y.W.H.A., a recreational and cultural Jewish institution throughout the U.S. The first Y.M.H.A. was established in New York in 1874, modeled after the Young Men’s Christian Association and geared to serve the social and recreational needs of the individual. At the height of Jewish mass immigration into the U.S., the “Y” movement grew swiftly and devoted much of its program to Americanization work. Some of its tendencies were assimilationist during this period.

In 1913, the Y.M.H.A. and kindred organizations united to form one national association. Eight years later, this association merged with the National Jewish Welfare Board, which has guided the work of the movement since then. In the last few decades, the nature of the Y.M.H.A. has changed, becoming dedicated to family rather than the individual. This change is also reflected in the name and program of the affiliated institutions. A large proportion of them are called Jewish Community Centers, and Jewish cultural and educational programs are an integral part of their work. In the U.S. and Canada, 352 such centers are currently affiliated with the National Jewish Welfare Board.

YOUTH ALIYAH.

Literally, youth immigration. Organization for the resettlement, education, and rehabilitation of Jewish youth in Israel. Youth Aliyah was founded in 1934, the year after Hitler’s seizure of power in Germany, was to save German Jewish youth from imminent doom under the Nazi system. In the desperate days of 1932, the idea for youth immigration from Germany to Palestine came to Recha Freier in Berlin. She presented this idea to a gathering of children about to complete their elementary education, and the response was tremendous. The youth themselves organized Juedische Jugendhilfe, or Jewish Youth Aid, which was soon joined by Ahava, or Love, an orphanage in Berlin. For years Ahava had been transferring children to Ben Shemen, a children’s village in Palestine. Under the leadership of Henrietta Szold, these spontaneous beginnings were organized into the Youth Aliyah movement. Selected adolescents were brought to Israel. There, in groups of 20 to 30, they were given two years of intensive training to enable them to settle on the land. During World War II, when communication with Europe was cut off, Youth Aliyah agents worked behind enemy lines, endangering their lives to bring children out of Europe to Palestine. The greatest challenge, however, came after the war. At that time thousands of children, wandering parentless over the face of a war-ravaged continent, had to be given homes and security. After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the beginning of mass immigration, the number of young people needing training and care increased further. Many of them came from Far Eastern countries and had to be helped to bridge the thousand-year gap between the lives they had led in their lands of origin and the lives they were about to lead in modern, westernized Israel. In time, other problems arose. While at first Youth Aliyah cared for youths separated from their parents, in recent years they have had to aid youngsters living with their families in underprivileged surroundings. It has undertaken a program of vocational training for immigrant youth and is founding clubs and youth centers in immigrant settlements. It has also taken under its wing underprivileged Israel-born youth; among its latest projects is an agricultural training course for Israeli Arabs. At the same time, Youth Aliyah is continuing to receive hundreds of youngsters each month in the 270 settlements throughout Israel; there, full-time educational programs are conducted under the guidance of specially trained counselors, many of whom are Youth Aliyah “graduates.” Special centers are maintained for disturbed children and those needing medical treatment. The organization has cared for more than 160,000 Jewish youths from 80 different countries in its 45 years of existence. The majority of youth Aliyah wards have gone into agriculture, making a sizeable contribution to the farm community of Israel. There is at present scarcely an agricultural settlement without its Youth Aliyah graduates. Others have become skilled craftsmen, teachers, soldiers, artists, and social workers.

The Youth Aliyah program is conducted and partly financed by the Jewish Agency. Hadassah, which has taken a special interest in the project from its inception is the official representative of Youth Aliyah in the U.S., and provides about 35% of its funds.

YUGOSLAVIA.

Located in southeast Europe, this former republic, established in 1918, split in 1993 into three separate countries: Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia. Jews settled there in early Roman times, and after the Spanish expulsion in 1942, many more came to Belgrade and Sarajevo, preserving Sephardic traditions. Although for many years they were ill-treated, the new Serbia carried out the stipulations of the Berlin Treaty of 1878 regarding religious liberty. After World War II, only 10,500 of the country’s 72,900 Jews remained. Before the outbreak of the recent fighting following the disbanding of Yugoslavia, 4,500 Jews lived there. Since then, hundreds of Jewish children have been brought to Israel, many followed by their parents and grandparents.

Today, only 1500 Jews live in Serbia-Montenegro, 100 in Macedonia, 1700 in Croatia, and 500 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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