Thursday, 16 September 2010


“The work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence for ever.” – Isaiah 32:17

Today is the most important holiday of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. Even those Jews who do not observe any other Jewish holiday or custom, will not work, will fast and attend synagogue  on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of the Jewish month Tishri, as instituted at Leviticus 23:26 et seq.

The day is set aside to “afflict the soul” and atone for the sins of the past year. It is a day of awe when God inscribes all the names of the faithful in His book. On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, one’s last appeal, one’s last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate one’s repentance and make amends. Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible. That must all be done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is written that people should not eat or drink (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known: Washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes (Orthodox Jews routinely wear canvas sneakers under their dress clothes on Yom Kippur), and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labour begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with other illnesses should consult a doctor and a rabbi for advice.

Most of Yom Kippur is spent in the synagogue in prayer. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning (8 or 9 a.m.) and continue until about 3 p.m. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5 or 6 PM for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until nightfall. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white shroud in which the dead are buried.

Jewish families traditionally eat a Meal of Cessation (Seudat Mafseket) before the Yom Kippur fast. A good way to o this is a meat meal for lunch, and then high carbohydrate dairy dinner directly before the fast. The meat menu could include, for example, low-salt vegetable soup, breaded chicken, potatoes and dessert. The dairy menu includes egg soufflé, whole wheat bagels with various spreads and fruit salad. At the end of Yom Kippur, traditionally  a joyful Break Fast meal is shared with family and friends. The Yom Kippur Break Fast is generally a festive breakfast menu consisting of foods such whole wheat bread or bagels with various spreads such as tuna, egg salad, cheeses, butter and jam. Egg soufflé may also be served again.

Blessing on you on this holy day of Yom Kippur!

Kosher Egg Soufflé

•    1/4 cup flour
•    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•    1/2 teaspoon salt
•    pepper
•    6 eggs
•    1 cup cottage cheese
•    2 cups (250 grams) grated cheese
•    1/2 stick (60 grams) butter, melted
•    1 small onion, finely chopped
•    120 grams sliced mushrooms
•    1 tomato, sliced
•    fresh parsley

1.    Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Grease a 9x9 inch casserole dish.
2.    Mix flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.
3.    Beat eggs. Add all cheeses, butter, onion and mushrooms. Mix well.
4.    Add flour mixture.
5.    Pour into casserole dish.
6.    Place slices of tomato on top and push in slightly. Sprinkle with parsley.
7.    Bake at 180° C for 40 minutes.
8.    Serve with bagels or toast and fresh fruit salad.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this Nicholas, I had heard of Yom Kippur but did not know what it was about!
    Always something to learn on your site.