Why Aren’t Jews Eating This Weekend?

Chag Samach everyone! And no, that’s not a typo or a drunken slur. It’s how we Jews say “happy holiday” to each other during the high holidays. It’s right up there with our favorite sayings and is only beat out by “daaaddddyyyy” and “what was your Bat Mitzah theme?”

We’re now right in the middle of the Ten Days of Repentance, the week and a half following Rosh Hashanah during which Jews reflect on past sins they’ve committed and ask for forgiveness (kind of like Sunday Confession for you Catholics out there), as well as forgive those who’ve sinned against them (I always have a bit of trouble with this part…like, do I really need to forgive my friend for hooking up with my ex?). These ten days are supposed to prepare us for this weekend’s upcoming holiday, Yom Kippur. Otherwise known in my family as that day where every gets extremely cranky and hostile. Oh and extra bonus: my dad suddenly feels compelled to talk about his decreasing blood sugar every six minutes.

The Deal: Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. It’s the day that we ask God for forgiveness and for a good year ahead. Essentially, Jews believe that God decides on Yom Kippur whether or not the upcoming year will be the best ever, a living nightmare, or something in between. So, in hopes of swaying God’s opinion, we repent. We pray, we atone for our sins, we mourn those lost, and we look forward to a better future. It sounds depressing, I know, but it actually ends on an optimistic note and starts with the Kol Nidre service, which is absolutely gorgeous. We’re not allowed to play instruments, but the singing for this particular service is some of the most beautiful of all of our prayers. Unless your chorus has that token loud singer who insists on overshadowing everyone with her tone deaf voice. Like, you’re not Beyonce. You’re Shira Goldberg, head of the Scarsdale PTA.

In addition to Kol Nidre, we have a few other traditional ways of expressing our repentance:

The Fast: One of the biggest and best-known aspects about Yom Kippur is that we’re supposed to fast for twenty-five hours. Yes, this definitely can make us a little touchy (and might explain why your Jewish friend balled you out for tagging an unflattering photo of her last Yom), but the purpose is to cleanse our souls for our new beginning. Think of it as a colonic for the soul.  The more religious observers will take this a bit farther and, in addition to not eating or drinking, will also abstain from gum-chewing, showering, and even brushing their teeth (and now you’re like “so was that smelly kid of my freshman year celebrating Yom year round?” No, he was just disgusting).

No Leather: For Yom Kippur, Jews also abstain from using products created out of the hides of animals. That means no leather shoes, no leather belts, no leather bags, etc. The idea is to strip yourself of luxuries, especially those that come at the expense of another. Many Jews will also refrain from wearing make-up, perfume, or anything overly flashy. The goal here is modesty and respect. So yes, Yom Kippur is one of the few Peta approved Jewish holidays. But that could all easily change this year if my Rabbi takes a page from Lady Gaga‘s book and wears a meaty tallis.

And if that’s not hard enough, we also have to stand for most of the 3-4 hour long services to ensure total focus on our prayers.

So, from half an hour before sundown Friday to Saturday half an hour after sundown (yay for the Lunar calendar), try not to eat or drink anything near us, and don’t be surprised if we apologize for that time last October when we borrowed your favorite bag without asking. We’re working on correcting our mistakes. Promise.

Oh and take note, minutes after the holiday is over we eat until we’re sick the game is back on until we have to repent again.

Please note: all writers AND editors involved are Jewish…and sarcastic. Really sarcastic.

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