Tomorrow at sunset Yom Kippur begins. The service in the synagogues opens with Kol Nidre. Here is what wikipedia tels about this dramatic opening of the Day of Atonement:

Before sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”), the congregation gathers in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and two people take from it two Torah scrolls. Then they take their places, one on each side of the cantor, and the three (symbolizing a Beth Din or rabbinical court.) recite:

In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God — praised be He — and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors.”

The cantor then chants the passage beginning with the words Kol Nidrei with its touching melodic phrases, and, in varying intensities from pianissimo (quiet) to fortissimo (loud), repeats twice (for a total of three iterations) (lest a latecomer not hear them) the following words (Nusach Ashkenaz):

“All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”

The leader and the congregation then say together three times “May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” The Torah scrolls are then replaced, and the customary evening service begins.

(source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kol_Nidre)

(video source KlezmerGuy)

Beautiful music accompanies the declaration. Here is one variant filmed in a Reform synagogue in Texas, the name of the cantor is Stephen Saxon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vkpsFwsQY4&feature=related

(video source fivnten)

Here we have the variant sung by the famous cantor Moishe Oysher in the 1939 Yiddish film “Overture To Glory”

(video source mariadelamor21)

The most famous instrumental variant belongs to Max Bruch – a cello composition here in the interpretation of Jacqueline du Pres.

(video source MooliX)

For folks who may bot know how Yom Kippur is celebrated in Israel, here is a fast-forward version of a crowded street corner in this unique day of the year. The whole life of the country stops, no planes come in or out, no cars (excepting emergency services) can be seen in the Jewish areas of the country.

Gmar Hatima Tova – May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good