Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement

The most important and solemn of Jewish Holidays, Yom Kippur is the culmination of the Days of Awe. It’s a day of prayer and reflection, and it’s all done on an empty stomach. Yom Kippur occurs on 10 Tishrei on the Hebrew calendar so it generally falls in the months of September or October. Erev Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur Eve) is before sundown on Yom Kippur and is celebrated by visiting others to give or ask for forgiveness, giving to charity and most families have a large meal in preparation for the fast.

Many Jews wear white on Yom Kippur to symbolize purity. In addition to fasting on the Jewish holiday, one is not allowed to ordain their body with oils or perfumes, wash or bathe, wear leather or engage in “marital relations.” Many married men wear a kittel, a white robe-like garment and a tallis during Jewish holiday prayer services. The kittel is worn in reverence to the verse in Isaiah that says “our sins shall be made as white as snow.” Yom Kippur is a day of prayer and reflection and to focus solely on making your final appeals to G-d before your name is sealed (hopefully) in the book of life. The Yom Kippur service concludes with a long blast of the shofar, marking the end of the Jewish holiday.

The first service of the Jewish holiday is called Kol Nidre, which is named after the prayer recited in the beginning of the service. The Kol Nidre is a request to G-d to annul all personal vows to be made in the upcoming year between man and G-d and basically states, “If I pass this test, I’ll pray every day for the next six months!” The service begins with the removal of two Torah scrolls from the ark by two congregants and each stands beside the cantor and the three recite: “In the tribunal of Heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of G-d – praised be He – and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with transgressors.” The cantor then chants the Jewish holiday Kol Nidre prayer in Aramaic.

To further atone as a community, the synagogue makes a group confession of sins by reciting the Jewish holiday prayer, Shemoneh Esrei. These sins are confessed in the plural emphasizing the community’s responsibility for the sins committed in the previous year. Among the list of sins, the prayer includes a catch-all confession: “Forgive us the breach of positive commands and negative commands, whether or not they involve an act, whether or not they are known to us.”

Yom Kippur is a complete Jewish holiday Sabbath. No work is to be done on that day and you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (water included!) for 25 hours, starting at sundown on Erev Yom Kippur until nightfall on Yom Kippur. Most of the Jewish holiday is spent in the synagogue starting at around eight or nine in the morning until about three o’clock, when many services break for an afternoon nap, before returning around 5 pm for evening services. The Yom Kippur service concludes with a long blast of the shofar, marking the end of the Jewish holiday.

After sundown and three stars are visible in the night sky on the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur is over and it’s time to break the fast! This usually includes a large meal of lighter food as to not disturb the starved stomach. Although there are many ways to nosh, some prefer to break the fast with a cocktail, others a return to the sweet taste of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah’s apples and honey and some give themselves something to atone for next year with an over-indulgent meal.

Prepping for the Jewish holiday fast…

On the days before the Jewish holiday fast, stop eating foods with high caffeine or sugar and drink more water than usual. On the day before the Jewish holiday fast eat something small about every two hours (in other words, nosh!). Once again keep away from the caffeine, sugar and salt and keep drinking plenty of water. On the Erev Yom Kippur meal before the fast, plan a meal that is high in carbohydrates and low in salt. Give yourself plenty of time to eat, so you’re in no rush to complete the meal before nightfall. Don’t eat too much, but be sure to drink plenty of water, because you won’t be able to have a sip for another 24 hours. After the meal drink warm water with sugar and brush your teeth.

NOTE: The fine folks at JDate are not doctors; (although many of our members are!) so please consult a physician for serious questions about fasting.

JDate’s Break the Fast Egg Soufflé Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces or 250 grams) grated cheese
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces or 60 grams) butter, melted
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x9 inch casserole dish. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and pepper then set aside. Beat eggs, add all cheeses, butter, onion and mushroom, mix well then Add flour mixture. Pour into casserole dish, place slices of tomato on top and push in slightly. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes.

NOTE: Being that the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath, this should be cooked the day before and stored in the fridge, and heated up after the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

NOTE 2: We here at JDate are not professional chefs (although some of our members are!) and have yet to attempt this recipe at our Beverly Hills office. That being said, we hear it’s quite tasty!

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