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September 24, 2012

Yom Kippur – My Religion, My Faith

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/yom_kippur_my_religion_my_faith/

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Tuesday evening marks the beginning of Yom Kippur.  It is a Day of Atonement and the holiest of all days for the Jewish religion.  Since many of my readers are not Jewish, and have written to ask what the holiday means, I thought I would take this opportunity to share the importance of Yom Kippur in terms of both my religion, and my personal faith.

On a religious level, the holiday is about atonement.  Jews observe the day with a 25 hour fast, along with prayer.  We spend most of the day in temple.  This day marks the end of the Jewish High Holidays.  It is the most observed of all the Jewish holidays and even the most secular of Jews will find themselves in temple.

Yom Kippur is the 10th day of the month of Tishrei.  In our tradition, God inscribes our fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashana, then seals the book with our fate on Yom Kippur. The time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is when we try to make amends and seek forgiveness.

It is not only about asking for God for forgiveness, but atoning for anything wrong we have done against another human being.  We spend the day praying for forgiveness, confessing our guilt, and talking to God about all of it.  Our hope is that when the sun sets to end the day, God has forgiven us.  It is a special day and always very emotional for me.

In terms of my personal faith, I speak to God every single day, but Yom Kippur is special.   Its not that he listens differently on this day, but more about our prayers being louder.  When every Jew prays on the same day, I imagine it is a wonderful chorus for God.  I envision him listening to all of us together and feeling from us what I feel from him.

I have a relationship with God that has taken me my whole life to build.  I turn to God in moments of joy, sorrow, peace, and turmoil.  God has listened, which has allowed me to listen in turn.  I am my closest to God when I pay attention to my breathing and don’t analyze choices.  It is through God that I am able to trust myself, and choose joy over fear.

I have a list of things to discuss with God.  Some are deep, some are silly, some need to be lifted, and others will ease his worry for me. God has always been by my side. Even when I did not see him, he was there.  When he spoke and I did not listen, he stayed.  He allowed me to hear my own voice, find my way to love, be a good mother, and find peace.

Some days I charge through life as a lion, and others I watch through the eyes of a lamb.  Life is a blessing and you meeting me here to read what is happening in my life matters to me.  I love that you are all going along the path with me.  I learn from you and appreciate when you share your views with me. We are all in this together.

I hope we are all inscribed in the Book of Life and have a year of health and happiness. I believe that if God leads you to it, he will lead you through it, and so I hope your path is an easy one.  Thank you all for reading.  Have an easy fast and I will see you back here on Wednesday night.  I’m off to atone, pray, fast, and keep the faith.

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