Today is Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. It closes out the High Holidays, the really important holidays for Jews (please not that Hanukkah is not in there). They begin with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. On that date tradition says that judgement on each person is written, and on Yom Kippur is it sealed. The ten days between are the ten days of repentance, a time in which to change their ways and make amends with those who one has wronged. Yom Kippur is generally observed by praying all day and fasting (including water) for 25 hours.
Yom Kippur is kind of a hard holiday to write about. It’s about making amends with those you have wronged. It’s also about being honest with god, if you’re religious, and being honest with yourself, if you’re secular. So while it’s popular to post broadcast apologies on Facebook, the proper way to make restitution is with a direct exchange with those who have been wronged.
I will be working on my own personal practice for Yom Kippur. As secular as I am, I’m also pretty Jewish, and the day still holds a deep meaning. I mean, when’s the next time I’m going to take a day off just to focus on being better in the coming year? Secular New Years? How many new year parties have you gone to where the theme is “self-improvement”? So today I’ll be trying to fast, but it won’t be my main focus. I will also be thinking about actionable ways to be a better person in the coming year; not just vague platitudes, but concrete steps I can take. I’ve also been making an effort this past year and think I’ve come fair ways as a person. This past month, in particular, I’ve been working on self-acceptance and honesty.
So to all my fellow Jews out there, I wish you an easy fast, and may you be inscribed for good things in the book of life. May you use this time, and the entire coming year, to work on bettering yourself and, by extension, the world around you.