How Different Jewish Citizens Celebrate Yom Kippur

Maya Stone, Business Manager

Starting from the left is a Lemon Bundt Cake, Black and White Cookies, Hamentashens (typically eaten during Purim), Cinnamon Rugelach and Russian Chocolate Cake. While the Bundt Cake was made by Michayla Stone (my sister), everything else was shipped in from Zabars, a NYC Specialty Food Store. Picture taken by Maya Stone.

      Shalom! It is that time of year again where Jewish people all across the world celebrate the High Holidays, which include Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Rosh Hashanah began Friday, Sep. 18 and went until Sunday, Sep. 20. Rosh Hashanah is the “New Year” in Judaism, and most families will eat apples and honey to kick off a sweet new year. Luckily for us Jews, 9 days after Rosh Hashanah, we are gifted with another holiday called Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur begins Sunday, Sep. 27 at sundown and goes until Monday Sep. 28 at sundown. On this holiday, Jewish people fast for 25 hours (which includes not drinking water) as a way to atone for any sins that they have committed. Both holidays focus heavily on the importance of family and friends as well as eating A TON. Once fasting ends for Yom Kippur, a period of eating for hours on end occurs.

   

 

 

 

      As an Ashkenazi Jew (a Jew of central or Eastern European descent) myself, these holidays are definitely exciting to me- especially since I get to eat as much as I want and not worry about my parents judging me! From my perspective, there are two types of Jews: traditional and cultural. Obviously, these are very broad terms, but growing up and being surrounded by different people in my synagogue really brought to light the variety of how each person embraces their religion. Traditional Jews work hard to maintain Jewish values and customs, such as attending Synagogue every Friday or Saturday for services. Cultural Jews identify with being Jewish but only practice Judaism on certain holidays, and they are more low key about it.

A common food to eat in Jewish households is Bagels! These Bagels were shipped in from Zabars, a NYC Specialty Food Shop. Included are Sesame Bagels, Everything Seasoning Bagels and Plain Bagels. Picture taken by Maya Stone.

 

      Personally, I see myself as a cultural Jew since I did have a Bat-Mitzvah, a service completely in Hebrew that occurs when a girl turns 12. However, I do not spend a lot of my time praying or studying my faith. On the other hand, my aunt on my dad’s side of the family identifies as a traditional Jew. Not only was she the only female rabbi in the city of Santa Barbara, California, but she is now a campus rabbi at Arizona State University.

Pictured is my grandmas famous dish: Kugel! Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole either made from potatoes or noodles. In this case, my grandma uses noodles with a corn flake and brown sugar topping. I decided to try and make it for myself, thanks grandma! Picture taken by Maya Stone.

 

   

       I decided that in honor of Yom Kippur, I would interview my aunt and get a glimpse into how she celebrates Yom Kippur versus how I do. It was interesting to find out how different our ways of practicing Judaism are, yet we both consider ourselves part of the same faith. 

 

Suzy Stone (Traditional)                                                           Maya Stone (Cultural)

What does Yom Kippur mean to you?

Yom Kippur is a time to turn inward and reflect on who I really want to be in a world without any other distractions.

What does Yom Kippur mean to you?

Yom Kippur is a time where I can repent any past sins or wrongdoings through the process of acknowledging my past mistakes and working to fix them.

Are there certain traditions that you follow for Yom Kippur?

Yes. I fast for 25 hours and I pray. There are 5 different prayer services that I usually attend at the Synagogue but due to Covid, we are praying online. At the end of Yom Kippur, we usually blow the shofar.

Are there certain traditions that you follow for Yom Kippur?

Not in particular but I like to challenge myself to fast for 14-25 hours and see how much food I can eat Monday night.

What is the literal meaning of Yom Kippur?

“Day of Atonement” which is a day where we ask both God and friends/family/friends for forgiveness for any wrongdoings that we may have committed. Also, on a metaphorical level, it means the “Day at one-mint”. Once we ask for forgiveness we can feel at one with ourselves after. Within Judaism, asking for forgiveness cannot only be verbal but must have actions. Example, if you have harmed someone financially, you must provide restitution to them. Finally, Yom Kippur teaches us that to commit to not making the same mistake, which is the fullest form of repentance in Judaism.

What is the literal meaning of Yom Kippur?

Day where God looks upon you and decides whether or not your sins can be forgiven.

How do you celebrate Yom Kippur?

Similar to my other answer but on top of that I fast from sundown on Sunday to sundown on Monday. We pray and we eat 2 celebratory meals (the meal before the fast and the meal after the fast) that we usually celebrate with family and friends. 

How do you celebrate Yom Kippur?

Usually I will celebrate it with my family, but this year we are going to a friend’s house and eating a ton of food!

Do you have any sins or wrongdoings that you want God to forgive on Yom Kippur?

Yes. I would like to be forgiven for the sin of inaction. To  me I can never do enough to help make the world a better place and I can always do more. I want to be forgiven for not doing enough to make the world a better place.

Do you have any sins or wrongdoings that you want God to forgive on Yom Kippur?

Yes. I am hoping God forgives me for getting angry with my parents or sister in certain situations due to being tired or stressed out. I want them to know that I never mean my hostility on a personal level, I am just having a bad day!

Do you read any Torah portions on Yom Kippur?

Yes. We read Leviticus chapter 16 as well as Isaih chapter 57. Leviticus 16 is about the ancient rituals associated with Yom Kippur in the torah. Isaiah 57 is the prophet telling the Israelites that fasting and praying is not enough and that we must also pursue social justice.

Do you read any Torah portions on Yom Kippur?

I do not. I can read Hebrew and speak it, but I don’t actually know what I am saying!

What is your favorite food to eat on Yom Kippur?

I would say challah right as I am breaking the fast (second meal). It is very delicious and you are celebrating the end of the fast. You eat a round challah because it marks the beginning of the new year as opposed to the traditional braided challah which is eating the rest of the year.

What is your favorite food to eat on Yom Kippur?

My grandma’s Kugel recipe because it is so simple yet absolutely incredible. It is basically a noodle dish but sweet because of the brown sugar and cornflakes.

     

Starting from the left is Nova Salmon, Smoked Sturgeon and Lox Salmon. All of these types of fish are commonly eaten within Jewish households, especially with Bagels and Cream Cheese. Also pictured is a Fritatta! Picture taken by Maya Stone

Even though there are clear differences between the traditional Jew and the cultural Jew, the faith remains the same between them. My aunt is part of my family, and she and I clearly have differences in opinions on how to embrace our Judaism. Despite this difference,  she and I still hold  the same belief and accept each other’s outlooks with open arms. Plus, the best thing about Judaism is that you do not have to be Jewish to celebrate it. Even here at Neuqua Valley we have a Jewish Student Club, founded by juniors Abby Robinson and Talia Mayer, that is open to everyone. In that same essence, if you ever come over to my house after one of the High Holidays, my family will surely welcome you in. They will talk your ear off about being Jewish, and then proceed to give you massive amounts of leftovers!