“The most unfortunate thing that happens to a person who fears failure is that he limits himself by becoming afraid to try anything new.”
Early morning on the day before Yom Kippur, groups of Jews will be gathering to hold squawking chickens by the feet and twirl them over their head while chanting a prayer. After the twirling, the chickens will be ritually slaughtered and given to the poor.
Kaparos, literally atonements, which has been performed in Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Chabad House and at Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad, is one of the strangest-looking customs in Jewish liturgy. It is done to inspire repentance and to impress upon its adherents the seriousness of Yom Kippur. However, the practice has inspired the ire of animal rights groups, who consider it cruel to the chickens, and many are urging that Jews who practice this custom do so using money instead, which is an acceptable substitute.
It all started with a void in the contemporary family.
"Our conversations with children are not deep enough," says psychiatrist Cece Feiler. "If you can't talk to your children, they grow up into adults who don't care.
"It forces you to slow down, to reflect and to interact in a meaningful way," Feiler says.
So together with actress Heidi Haddad, she created the Shabbat Box of Questions, whose Star of David-shaped question cards do inspire fun, even soul-searching moments.