At Yom Kippur our tradition explains that our fates will be sealed for the year to come. At this time, between Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre, we reflect on our personal behavior over the past year and our relationship with others. There are also several ways in which we are directed to observe Yom Kippur. It is a mitzvah to congregate for an abundant meal prior to Kol Nidre. Then, from the beginning of Yom Kippur until the Shofar is sounded twenty-six hours later, we are to "Afflict our souls" and abstain from eating or drinking, washing our bodies, and wearing leather footwear.
While these are directives of our faith, some may alter how they observe whether it's drinking, but not eating; showering, but not shaving; or some other variation. While I’m not advocating that one should stray from tradition, the fact is that we have a choice of how to observe.
Simply having the luxury of choice leads me to naturally think of those who do not have the same luxury. Today - in 2016 - there are people in our local and global community who don't have a choice to fast, or to shower, or to even wear shoes. They simply don't have the means or ability to do so and therefore don't have a choice. We must keep these people in mind and ensure that we commit ourselves to the needs of these people.
As a Jewish community, we have a vehicle with which to ensure that we care for the needs of those less fortunate, it's called tzedekah – acts of charity, acts of righteousness. We don’t just do it during the high holidays – we do it all year. The Jewish Federation, its volunteers, its annual fundraising campaign, its many activities – this is tzedakah in action by thousands of donors who make it all possible. I invite you to learn more about the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs and the work of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas by clicking here.
This year we have an additional call to action. Many members of our community in the Southeastern United States have been displaced during this most sacred time of year due to the massive destruction of Hurricane Matthew. Please consider providing some comfort to these families - our family - by making a contribution to the Jewish Federations of North America Hurricane Matthew relief fund. 100%% of your contribution is tax deductible and will go directly to those in need in the areas most affected.
May you and your loved ones be inscribed and sealed for a year of good health, contentment, and peace.
Gmar Chatima Tovah