Reflection on Yom Kippur

Updated 2022

The purpose of fasting on Yom Kippur; Removing the Stumbling Block

The Jewish high holy days require many hours of thoughtful preparation. It is a time of introspection, even as we work to help prepare others in our families, our congregations, our lives. 

And the pandemic changed everything.

Many of us have now experienced two years of "virtual" service experiences. In many spaces, there are now a hybrid of service options available. Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish year, can be complicated. For many it is a day spent in synagogue and/or fasting. Do not get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the technology that is making it possible to experience worship without gathering. I am just suggesting that we need to give ourselves the space to recognize that this is different than what it once was, and we need to let ourselves feel whatever emotion accompanies that. I think we need to give ourselves permission to experience Yom Kippur in whatever way we need to. 

Whatever that is, it's ok. 

And an important thought from my wise friend and colleague, Rabbi Ken Carr:
"Fasting on Yom Kippur is a call to a higher level of ethical behavior. It is a signal to recognize the responsibility we bear to other people. It is a shofar blast awakening us to our ability to improve the lives of those who need our help. This true fast is not easy, certainly not as easy as simply not eating and drinking. If our fasting is easy, then the fast will not have served its real purpose. So let us not wish each other a tzom kal, an easy fast; instead, let us wish each other a tzom tov, a good fast, a productive fast, a meaningful fast that leads us to action on behalf of those less fortunate than ourselves."

I wish each of you a tzom tov, a good fast. May this Yom Kippur be a meaningful holiday for those who observe, in whatever way you choose to observe.

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