Tuesday evening marked the start of Yom Kippur, and a couple dozen people took part in the evening service at Adath Yeshurun Synagogue.

"This is the holiest day of the year," said Bill Schuster, president of the synagogue. "It starts actually on Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish new year, 10 days ago – and the belief is that on Rosh Hashanah that our fate for the entire year is written, but on Yom Kippur, our fate is sealed, and so you have 10 days to try to make good and you know, there's a lot of atonement and forgiveness."

Jacob Leizman, a second-year rabbinical student from New Rochelle, New York, conducted the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

"You know, I love them, they're two really amazing important holidays, they're also two holidays within the greater Jewish calendar where a lot of other parts of the human experience are highlighted," Leizman said Tuesday.

Leizman said the two holidays are the most popular Jewish holidays in American Judaism, adding they have "heavy, solemn themes."

Schuster said the holiday is really about getting in touch with yourself and communing with God however you believe.

"In fact there’s a theme that’s repeated over and over in the High Holidays that says you know, through prayer, through forgiveness and through charity, you can reach the higher road, and the interesting thing is that the word they use for repentance actually translates literally to meaning ‘coming home,’ or returning, so there’s a sense of returning back to the way of the righteous," he said.

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.