Reflecting on this year’s Yom Kippur

1 month ago The Connections Staff 0

Kinneret Birwadkar// Mumbai, India

This year I spent the holiest day of the Jewish year in Mumbai, India. Despite not being able to spend Yom Kippur in synagogue, did I let the experience crush me down? Certainly not. In fact, it did quite the opposite. 

Let’s run through what a typical Yom Kippur looks like. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a day-long fast, confession, and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue. Five prayer services are held during Yom Kippur, each with specific readings and rituals: Maariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Minchah, and Neilah. 

On this day, Jews attend worship services and recite prayers from the machzor, a prayer book used during holy days. At the end of the services a shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown to signal the end of Yom Kippur. Then Jews are able to finally feast, breaking the fast.

But of course, this year was a little different. The pandemic bound us to our homes, but we did overcome these limitations. My Indian Jewish community connected through Zoom before the fast began and ensured that there were no hindrances in the prayer and this tradition. Instead of physically meeting each other and wishing our friends and relatives well before the fast, we resorted to exchanging wishes and blessings through video calls. Clearly, technology has influenced the way we practice our religion too.

I had heard that the reason why people spend most of their time during their fast in the synagogue is so that they are away from home and able to resist the urge to nibble in between services. Now it has changed. Don’t you think that this year’s fast strengthened our will-power to subdue our hunger and have self-control? Yes it has!

On other days, every couple of hours, I would grab some snacks for myself. But this Yom Kippur prompted me to control my temptations and connect with G-d instead. Yom Kippur is all about self-introspection and reflection of our deeds across the preceding year, and I think we all did that very well this year. Last year was full of online classes and video calls, but Yom Kippur made me repent to all those whom I might have ignored when they were sitting right beside me in real life.

I’m sure this Yom Kippur was different for you too. As I sign off, let me remind you that asking for forgiveness doesn’t allow you to forget your mistakes, but it is a promise to yourself and to G-d that you won’t repeat them again. Wishing all CTeen readers and enthusiasts a happy and successful year ahead!