Yom Kippur is the most important day of the Jewish year. It is the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. These two festivals are known as the Days of Awe. It is a day of complete fasting, which means no food or drink. It is the last chance we have to ask God for forgiveness of our sins. Hashem (God) tells us we should pray, repent for our sins and give to charity. We ask God to record our name in the Book of Life for the coming year.
It’s like a day spa for the soul, the spiritual glue that holds Jews together.
It all starts with a light meal. Some eat fish or chicken, light pasta and sweet chullah. After the meal everyone heads to the synagogue for the Kol Nidre service. It is traditional to wear white as a symbol of purity. On this day we “afflict the soul” to atone for the sins of the past year, and as leather shoes are a symbol of luxury, we wear non-leather shoes, often sneakers. It can look quite weird with the men in suits and women in dresses or skirts, all with their sneakers. But everyone is the same, so it doesn’t matter.
The next morning, leaving our BlackBerrys and iPhones at home, we head off to synagogue. The fast places us in a humble state in which we can more easily identify the areas within us that need improvement. We pray for forgiveness and wait for the end of the day, when the Shofar is blown to signify the end of Synagogue service and the end of the fast. Now it is officially time to break the fast.
Breaking of the Fast
After a day in the synagogue and fasting, everyone is feeling wonderful and hungry: the perfect combination for a successful meal. Friends and family break the fast with Honey Cake and enjoy a delicious meal together.
• Two festival meals without Kiddush
• Giving extra charity
• Lighting candles for our family members who have died
• Going to the synagogue and praying
• Wearing white and non leather shoes to Synagogue
• Fasting the entire day from sunset, the first day to one hour after sunset the following day
A cold Buffet Style Dinner (that way everyone can help themselves), with foods like:
• Sweet chullah
• Chopped herring
• Poached salmon
• Fried fish
• Potato Pesto salad
• Pumpkin and Green bean salad
• Garden salad
• Lemon Tart
• Malcolm’s world-famous Honey Cake
• Fruit platter