Yom Kippur is about all of us

The time has come, once again, for the global Jewish community to take stock of our actions and ask for forgiveness for our transgressions. We may post messages of forgiveness on social media, send notes of apology, or start calling through our contact lists. All of this to perform, as we are commanded, the acts of repentance (Teshuva) and confession (Vidui). It feels like a very personal time as we, individually, ask for forgiveness. But as much as we may see Yom Kippur as “Me time” to ensure our individual inscription in the book of life, it is very much communal. It is during Yom Kippur that the omnipresent fiber that binds us together, Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh (all of Israel is responsible for one another), is as visible as at any other time in our year.
This collective responsibility is reflected in the translation of the Ashamnu and Al Cheit(the confessional prayers) that are recited during Yom Kippur. As I interpret them, these prayers do not speak to our personal transgressions, but rather to the sins that “We” have committed. Therefore, in the recitation of the confessional we, as a community, as a people, are asking for forgiveness. It is one of the most beautiful, intriguing, and challenging aspects of being a part of the Jewish people. “We” are responsible for one another’s actions, whether righteous or nefarious, and those actions cast a reflection upon on all of us.
Therefore, as we contemplate on our past year and begin a new, let us recommit to taking responsibility for each other beyond Yom Kippur. If we see someone on the verge of transgressing, offer assistance. If we see someone in need of assistance, offer assistance so that they are not compelled to transgress. Let’s treat each other in a way that will not ultimately require forgiveness.
Additionally, as we shed ourselves of accommodations at Yom Kippur through fasting, not bathing, or loss of other creature comforts, let us remember the pain and discomfort being felt by those impacted by the recent natural disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. After you break the fast with your friends and family, please consider helping those who may not have had a choice to fast this year. Please visit the Jewish Federation of North America’s Disaster Relief website here.
G'mar Hatima Tova, may you be sealed in the Book of Life for a Good Year
-Todd Polikoff
President & CEO


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