Yom Kippur, Judaism’s most solemn festival, took place from Sunday evening to Monday evening this week and lasted 25 hours. Translated as Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur follows ten days after Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish New Year. The day is focused upon prayer and reflection and is a time when Jews atone to G-d and those around them for things they have done wrong during the past or are sorry for. It is a day of fasting and it is also forbidden to wear leather, apply make-up, body creams and perfume, go to work or school or switch on any electronic devices, including lights, phones or other household appliances. The day should be spent without anything considered to be a luxury or self-indulgent.
This year, synagogues had to cancel their prayer services and Jewish families all around the world spent the day at home taking part in services virtually. When the day of fasting and prayer was declared over by the blowing of a shofar, a ram’s horn, families could celebrate in their homes with a joyful meal. What was missing this year obviously was the coming together of large groups of friends and families to share in the communal aspect of celebration as many countries throughout the world are subject to varying degrees of pandemic-related social restrictions. The absence of loved ones at this time from our festivals and celebrations, whether religious or not, act as a poignant reminder that family, friends and community, care and respect for everyone, and help us come through adversity together.