Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

The local Jewish community began observing Yom Kippur on Tuesday evening and will continue to commemorate the holiday until sundown today.

Many of the Mother Lode's Jewish individuals participate in services at the nearest synagogues in Modesto and Stockton or observe the holiday from their homes.

Yom Kippur, which means "Day of Atonement," is considered one of the religion's most significant holidays and is observed through prayer and a 24-hour fast.

"It is a really important holiday where you make amends and think about how you could change in the coming year," said David Simons, president of the Mother Lode Jewish Community.

Yom Kippur falls 10 days after the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Thetwo holidays are often referred to as the High Holy Days.

Dale Silverman, secretary of the Mother Lode Jewish Community, said it is also a time to remember family members and friends who have died, and to pray for peace, prosperity and health throughout the world.

"It's a somber and yet very uplifting 24-hour period."

While there is no large-scale congregation in Tuolumne or Calaveras counties during Yom Kippur, an annual event is held the weekend before to celebrate Shabbat Shuvah.

The Mother Lode Jewish Community celebrated Shabbat Shuvah, the sabbath day, on Sept. 16 in Murphys and Sept. 17 in Copperopolis.

Each event was held at a home of a Mother Lode Jewish Community member and included a potluck meal and a service led by Rabbi Margie Jacobs.

The event is held in different locations each year because the organization encompasses Tuolumne, Calaveras, Mariposa and Amador counties.

The group will celebrate its next holiday, the Succoth, at the World Spirit Celebration at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys on Sunday.

The celebration is an annual event that brings together various religious groups for an interfaith service. The one-hour service, which will begin at 1:30 p.m., is part of the annual "Sierra Green Days" weekend-long event.

The Mother Lode Jewish Community members will gather in front of the empanada booth at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and find a shady area to act as a sukkah, a temporary dwelling built during Succoth, and recite the blessings for the holiday.