Like clockwork, each year, ten days after the celebration of the Jewish new year, comes the day of atonement, Yom Kippur. From sundown the night before the sundown the night of, we fast, think about and atone for those we’ve wronged and forgive those who have wronged us.
In a conversation about this with a friend who was raised Jewish but has recently converted to Islam, we debated the merits of this system. Every religion has a way of making up for sins- Catholics use weekly confession, for example- and in every religion you can embody the idea or you can just give it lip service. It’s very easy to be a jerk all year (all week) and then say you’re sorry one day a year (once a week) and then go back to being a jerk again. Or you can take the idea to heart, really examine how you’ve been living and try to make positive changes.
I use the day as a time to reflect on the last year: what was I proud of in my behaviors and responses? What was I not as proud of? What did I want to pretend I didn’t do? If something stands out as particularly egregious, I’ll apologize to the person I’ve harmed. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the ideas of guilt vs. shame and the role of forgiveness of yourself and others and I think that Yom Kippur can serve as a time to really examine and differentiate between those.
Of course, for the last several years I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding so I have been excused from fasting. I still thought and was careful but I ate.
It is traditional to have a somewhat sparse but filling, non-celebratory dinner both before and after the holiday. The break fast meal is generally dairy. This year we’re planning to break our fast with a meal at a new dumpling house ( I am so. excited. See this post for why) which, while not the same place as referenced in that post, may be able to rival it.
For the night before, I went simple. I made Mushroom Popover Pie which I found on a recipe card send to me by Jewish Women International, a great organization to which I donate every year.
I served it with a homemade challah. It is Shabbat, after all. It’s not pretty but it is yummy. And not decadent at all, which is somehow fitting. It’s a recipe by Mollie Katzen and can be found here.
So, on this Yom Kippur Eve, I wish you time to reflect upon your year. I wish you the ability to see the positive and the negative and to have the strength to change what you dislike. I wish you an easy but significant fast and I wish you peace.
Finally, as someone I know and admire in the blog world says, I wish you enough.