September 17, 2010, - 4:01 pm

Observing Yom Kippur

By Debbie Schlussel

Tonight, the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur begins (and ends on Saturday Night). It’s a day of atonement for our sins and a day full of prayer to G-d*, asking for forgiveness and a good year. (I’ll try to post my movie reviews before it starts, so stay tuned.)


Israeli Soldiers & Other Jews Praying @ Israel’s Kotel (Western Wall)

Yom Kippur is one of the holiest Jewish holidays, at the end of which we believe our fate for the next year is “sealed” by G-d. We believe that on Rosh HaShanah, that fate is written by Him, and on Yom Kippur, he issues his final Judgment. This is Judgment Day.

On Yom Kippur, we fast and pray for about 25 hours to ask G-d for a good year. Before the fast, we eat a big, sumptuous meal, which expands the stomach and makes the fast more difficult. During the holiday, there are strict prohibitions: no food, drink, shower, TV/radio, phone, etc. the whole day, which is mostly spent at synagogue. The idea is that you are removing yourself from worldly concerns and focusing on spiritual ones, most importantly repentance for your sins. We also don’t wear leather shoes, as back in the day, those were a luxury of the wealthy, and the holiday is not about ostentatious displays, but about humble requests before G-d.

It starts just before sundown, tonight, and ends after dark tomorrow (Saturday) night, with one sound of the shofar (ram’s horn–see explanation of shofar here).

To my Jewish friends and readers, have an easy fast and a great year. Gmar Chatimah Tovah [May you be finally sealed for good.]

To everyone, see you very, very soon. And thank you for your continued patronage of this site. I very much appreciate my readers, their continued support of this site, and, of course, their tips and comments always. And, among other things, I will pray for that to continue and increase in the coming year.

Thanks to the many readers who sent me i- and e-cards wishing me an easy fast and a good year. Right back at ya!

* Religious Jews use dashes in the word “G-d” and do not write it out completely out of respect for Him and the wish not to write the name in vain.

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18 Responses

Debbie, I am a gentile and don’t know the religious observances of Jews, Muslims, Catholics, or pretty much any other religion. I do know about Hannukha(sp), Christmas, etc. but I don’t actually practice faithfully according to any relion’s teachings. I actually don’t believe in doing so for myself.

With that said, I am curious, just curious, as an intellectual pusuit, about your deference to spelling G-d. Does that deference, in your opinion, equate with a Muslim’s sensibilties about a portrayal of Mohammed? I realize that practicing Jews do not purport to kill people who spell G-d as God. And I also realize that Muslims who want to kill infidels because they draw Mohammed pictures are completely looney tunes.

But is there some bit of understanding between the two groups who seem to be so adamant, and to my mind, screwed-up, about completely inconsequential matters? Am I missing something?

I surely do not understand why there has been a war to the death for millenia between humans who actually have shared the same piece of turf. Is this hate Biblical enough so that no one can get past it? If so, then regardless of who wins, and I really don’t think there will be a winner, they will lose.

Tell me what an observing Jew in today’s modern (if you can call it that) society would want or even dictate. Is there a way out without nuclear war? If not then I hope Israel strikes the first, and completely decisive blow.

fgmorley on September 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Am I missing something?

    fgmorley on September 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Yes. Little things called “facts” and “knowledge”.

    Go study the Qur’an, the ahaddiths and the history of the founding of Islam’s roughly half a dozen main schools of jurisprudence.

    Then come back here and tell us in 250 words or less why your post above is based on nothing but moral equivalence tripe.

    Shy Guy on September 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      SG, the idiot still owes John an apology. He didn’t even understand John’s post and embarrassed himself completely.

      No one understands his post and he certainly can’t understand John’s. I’m still waiting for his apology to John.

      Skunky on September 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    excuse me but us Jews will hang you if you dear criticize Israel regardless of all the UN atrocities, unfortunately we have been living under the roman empire for more then 2000 years of persecution based on religious propaganda while no one asks to see what is hidden about jesus in the vaticans caves that they locked so many up for seen.

    but now we have the evidence but know Christians will never believe it anyway since its embarrassing

    obaba on September 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Miss Schlussel:

Am I allowed to joke and say, “Yum! Kipper!”, or has that already been done to death by virtually every Jewish comedian who’s ever held a microphone?

I remember when the war started during Yom Kippur.

I reckon you already know that today was Constitution Day, and also, National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

Today, one of the guys here at the Old Soldiers’ Home committed suicide by jumping off a balcony.

Enjoy your holiday.


John Robert Mallernee
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

John Robert Mallernee on September 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    John, stay classy. Just because you are connected with the Armed Forces Retirement Home doesn’t give you jack-shit rights to try to place some suicide on Ms. Schlussel’s plate. You sir are a complete moron, and an asshole. Hey why don’t you commit suicide and make us all happy?

    fgmorley on September 17, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      Mr. Morley:

      You use language like that on Miss Schlussel’s web site and have the effrontery to tell me (or anyone else) to “stay classy”?

      Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the suicide, but it was on my mind, because we have a lot of it here.

      I’ll die soon enough, so you needn’t be concerned about that.

      We all die, including you.

      I am who I am, and I do what I do, sometimes right, and sometimes wrong.

      I’m human and make mistakes.

      So do you.

      Maybe that’s what Yom Kippur is all about, hey?

      Xin loi.

      John Robert Mallernee
      Armed Forces Retirement Home
      Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

      John Robert Mallernee on September 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm

        You use language like that on Miss Schlussel’s web site and have the effrontery to tell me (or anyone else) to “stay classy”? GOOD POINT.

        Dear Mr. Mallernee: I understand your grief and anger and need to lash out. I KNOW you’re not blaming Ms. Schlussel for your friend’s suicide. May he rest in peace.

        Is there any group in Washington that volunteer-visits the men in the Armed Forces Retirement Home?

        Debbie, I hope you and all the religious Jews on this website had an easy, headache-free fast.

        Miranda Rose Smith on September 19, 2010 at 2:53 am

FG…I think you totally misconstrued John’s post and you owe him an apology. I haven’t a clue why you could not see that in his post, he was OBVIOUSLY mentioning a tragic event at his home, by no means making light of it. My goodness!

That said, I was so pleased to read about the meaning of YK. I am not Jewish, but next year shall get ready to celebrate both RS and YK in a Orthodox way.

Skunky on September 17, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Peace be with you and your people on this holy day.

B in Toronto on September 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Yom Kippur is about self-denial and asking G-d for forgiveness of sins committed against Him. The fast and the austere nature of the day is meant to underline that we are here by G-d’s sufferance and whether we are written in the Book Of Life for the coming year is dependent on our behavior. We owe more thanks to G-d than we realize and all our world blessings ultimately come from Him.

Our humility shows that we have a long way to go towards perfection and this life and human nature hasn’t changed for that to happen. We may be more prosperous today than at any point in the past few thousand years? But are we more good today than our ancestors? That’s open to debate.

And Yom Kippur will be with us until the arrival of the Messiah and even then I suspect mankind will still be making amends.

NormanF on September 19, 2010 at 1:36 am

Typo? Debbie wrote, “We believe that on Rosh HaShanah, that fate is written by Him, and on Yom Kippur, he issues his final Judgment.” The “H” in “Him” was capitalized, but in this same sentence,The “h” in “he” was not capitalized. Repent and atone, Ms. Schlussel.

Goy on September 19, 2010 at 10:07 am

And Yom Kippur will be with us until the arrival of the Messiah and even then I suspect mankind will still be making amends.

Are you aware that the messiah has already arrived in the form of Jesus Christ and only through repenting your sins to him will you get to heaven.
I really want to know how you Jews and Christians can get along considering one of you knows the messiah has come 2000 years ago while the rest think he has yet to show up.

Nak on September 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

The Muslims, like the Jews, await the Mahdi. Every religion seems to anticipate the Messianic Age in the future.

Its safe to say it won’t happen for those us now alive.

NormanF on September 19, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    The whole point of faith is not just awaiting and expecting the Messiahs arrival every day, but doing what we can to hasten that arrival- i.e. being good.

    In Judaism, we believe that Messiah comes for the sake of all the world, not just those who call themselves “Jews”. And we can hasten his arrival by doing what God has asked us to do, which is essentially “be nice to one another”.

    As NormanF mentioned above, most of us prefer not to engage in theological arguments with non-Jews, especially in public forums, for the sake of peace “in the house”.

    Doda McCheesle on September 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm

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