Abby Slutsky enjoys brainstorming unique ways to celebrate holidays.
Yom Kippur, also known as the “Day of Atonement,” is one of the holiest days of the year for those who practice the Jewish faith. On this special day, many Jews fast and repent for their sins.
In the past, it has also been one of the most crowded days at synagogues. Many Jews who normally do not attend services do attend on special days like Yom Kippur. After attending services and fasting, many choose to end the holiday at sunset by sitting down to a cold meal of lox, fish, and bagels. More often than not, family or friends share the holiday by breaking the fast with those close to them.
Due to the pandemic this year, many Jews are likely to forego services, and some may even break their fast without inviting anyone beyond their immediate family. Thus, the question arises, “How can you celebrate Yom Kippur at home and still feel like you have observed the holiday?”
The ideas in this article can help you observe some Yom Kippur traditions without entering a synagogue. With a little creativity and effort, you can make your celebration special.
4 Ways to Celebrate Yom Kippur at Home
- Attend a Virtual Yom Kippur Holiday Service
- Create Your Own Services or Tradition
- Reach Out and Try to Mend a Rift
- Prepare and Serve Your Break-the-Fast as Though You Were Having Company
1. Attend a Virtual Yom Kippur Holiday Service
Many temples offer virtual services for Jews who cannot attend a traditional, in-person Yom Kippur service. Whether you are reform or conservative, there is likely to be a service that meets your needs.
Although donations are encouraged, Ahava offers free reform Yom Kippur services. They have Kol Nidre on Sunday, September 27, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., and a Monday, September 28, 2020 service. The Monday morning service is 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and there is a 45-minute Yizkor service that starts at noon. Register at Ahava to enjoy one or all of their Zoom Yom Kippur holiday services.
Adas Israel offers conservative services for Yom Kippur that you can stream on your computer. On Sunday, September 27, 2020, they offer a tradtitional Kol Nidre service that begins at 6:00 p.m., and at 6:30 p.m., they have a community Kol Nidre service with music. On Monday, September 28, 2020, they have many service options. There is a 9:30 a.m. traditional service, and a community service with music that starts at 10:00 in the morning. There is also a 10:00 a.m. minyan service, and several afternoon services that start at 4:45 p.m. or 5:45 in the evening.
To view their full selection of events, visit the Adas Israel schedule page. Their service instruction page will guide you through the procedure of accessing services. They encourage donations, but there is no set fee. Additionally, Adas Israel offers some religious discussion opportunities.
2. Create Your Own Service or Tradition
Creating a service can be a bit more work than listening to one that a Rabbi officiates. However, it can be a fun way to create an interactive opportunity for the whole family to participate in the service. Additionally, you can modify the length and activities in the service so that even those participants with short attention spans stay engaged.
Gateways Access to Jewish Learning offers excellent resources to teach your children about Yom Kippur. Scroll toward the bottom of the page to find their Yom Kippur selections. Your children can learn why you fast, the correct clothing to wear during the holidays, and Yom Kippur social skills, such as apologizing. Gateways also provides some free holiday activities and crafts that you can do with your children.
If you just want to quickly hear the shofar being blown, NC17's short video tells a little bit about the shofar (a ram's horn blown during the holiday service), and you can hear its sound while you learn about its significance.
Reclaiming Judaism offers information about Yom Kippur that can serve as a discussion forum for your family in lieu of a traditional service. Their page also suggests that you may want to wear white to acknowledge Yom Kippur because white signifies a new beginning or a blank page that you can improve upon throughout the year.
You can also create a virtual service with friends and family. Invite each participant to share one prayer or story that is reflective of the holiday. It does not need to be long, but your efforts will help make the holiday special.
3. Reach Out and Mend a Rift
Yom Kippur traditions include atoning for your sins and seeking forgiveness. Sometimes family members drift apart and hold grudges for misunderstandings that happened a long time ago. Now is the time to try to make a phone call and offer an olive branch for a reconciliation. Or, if you were wrong, apologize and try to put it behind you.
4. Prepare and Serve Your Break-the-Fast as Though You Were Having Company
This does not mean that you have to buy food for ten people if you are only four. However, when you host a family gathering, you probably put more effort into serving your food and setting your table. There is no reason why your immediate family should not experience the same "company" treatment even if no one else is joining your Yom Kippur celebration.
Set the table with your best china; use linen napkins. If desired, put candles on the table or purchase an attractive centerpiece. Create and garnish a fish platter with parsley, herbs, or other items to make it attractive and eye-catching.
Serve wine with the meal, and do not be afraid to use the nice wine glasses that you only use once or twice a year. If you usually set the table with placemats, use a pretty tablecloth. These extra details at your break-the-fast meal will help make the holiday seem special.
© 2020 Abby Slutsky
Abby Slutsky (author) from LAFAYETTE HL on September 15, 2020:
Thanks for reading.
Danny from India on September 15, 2020:
Yom Kippur like Lent serves as a reminder to come clean after the period.
Nice article Abby.