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The Wonder Years..how much of this life can we do? : Erev Yom Kippur, a time to reflect..

Friday, 3 October 2014

Erev Yom Kippur, a time to reflect..

Tonight sees the start of the holiest day in the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement - a fast of repentance. A time to reflect and ask for forgiveness. Once a Jewish child has had their Bar or Batmitzvah they will then be expected to fast from sundown tonight until sunset tomorrow and attend a service at the Synagogue. 

Since 13, I have taken part in this fast and over the years my feelings towards the day have changed. At first it was a hardship and then as I understood it more as Yom Kippur became something with meaning. A chance to focus and cleanse my mind. As I've got older I have found the day somewhat freeing. This year I won't be fasting as I'm pregnant, which kinda feels like I'm cheating as its been such a custom for so many years. However I just saw a message from my Rabbi at SAMS describing how he feels we should think about Yom Kippur. He wrote:

"You shall free your souls, allow your souls to be rid of all of the usual bodily needs, constraints and desires and dedicate a 25 hour period to the spirit and the Divine"

This may sound heavy, but this idea of 'freeing' yourself is how I interpret what is expected of me, when we live in such busy lives, often not having time just to stop and think about the present. 

think it's essential to take time to reflect and although I won't be fasting I can still observe, stop and think and remember. 

How and where you choose to do this, is up to you. If, like me, you wish to do it in a religious context then I hope it gives you all the spiritual connection you strive for. 

If you don't observe there is still a vital part of human nature that needs to take time every now and again to take stock, reflect, reassess. Too many of us, I think, are guilty of denying ourselves this very simple task. 

In a challenging year for the Jewish community,as lot of judgement has been passed by society as a whole on issues that aren't properly understood. We as a people, continue to self protect by raising awareness of growing anti antisemitism sharing stories and experiences. 

Have a read about a recent article a friend and stand up comic Bennet Arron wrote in The Jewish Chronicle. Bennett was in complete disbelief at the reaction he received this summer at his gigs when mentioning he's Jewish. It's heart breaking. Bennett is a brilliant talent yet now he's facing more barriers and questioning his 'comic' identity. 

Attacks on the Jewish people are nothing new and there are plenty of stories about heightened security across the UK for the High Holy days.  Social media has proved to be a terrifying place for people to attack and abuse us.  

Today I saw Yom Kippur trending on twitter and cautiously had a look to see whether it was in good taste or just another excuse for blame, have a look - see what you think. 

Sadly there is still fighting in the Middle East despite the UK media reporting it less than over the last few months, but the one thing I think this year has taught me is how much ignorance people have about subjects they might comment on online. 

Free speech is a given, we are a democracy but when 'memes' are shared that aren't really understood, you must ask yourself WHY you are doing it, does it really matter to you, or do you just think it will make you look smart? 

Shabbat Shalom

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