Yom Kippur for Families with Young Children

Join Rabbi Yosef and Let’s Welcome a Sweet New Year Together!

Experience a family-friendly service for children ages 5 and under and their “grown-ups” that will have us singing, blessing, and thinking about making better choices in the year ahead as a new year is ushered in.

Not in our Early Childhood program? Contact Terri Soifer,  our Director of Community Engagement, for passes.

Yom Kippur at Temple Beth Ami

Temple Beth Ami invites you to celebrate Yom Kippur the holiest day of the year with us. Services start Tuesday, September 18th at 5:45 PM, Wednesday, September 19th at 9:00 AM, Yizkor at 11:30 AM, FREE Community Yizkor at 3:30 PM, Mincha at 5:00 PM. We would love for you to come and break the fast with us. Contact us at 215-673-2511 or [email protected] for ticket information.

The Yom Kippur Meal of Cessation

The seudat mafseket, or meal of cessation, is the meal we eat before the onset of the Yom Kippur fast. A good strategy for success is to drink lots of water, and eat a dinner that includes lean proteins and whole grains. The recipes in this article provide for a complete seudat mafseket, from main course to side dish to dessert. [Read more…]

Tisha B’Av and Tips for an Easy Fast

Cartoon of two men discussing Tisha Be'Av. Credit: Drybones.

Courtesy of Yaakov Kirschen.

Tonight is Erev Tisha B’Av, the eve of the 9th Day of Av, one of the most solemn days in the Jewish calendar. Tisha B’Av is the anniversary of numerous tragedies in Jewish history. For example,

  • The report of the 12 spies.
  • The destruction of King Solomon’s Holy Temple by the Babylonians (422 BCE).
  • The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans (68 CE).
  • The defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt (132 CE).
  • The declaration by Pope Urban II of the First Crusade (1095 CE).
  • The expulsion of English Jews (1290 CE).
  • The expulsion of Spanish Jews (1492 CE),
  • The start of World War I (1914 CE).
  • The beginning of mass deportation from the Warsaw Ghetto (1942 CE), and
  • The bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires (1994 CE).

To commemorate these events, Jews fast for 25 hours and refrain from bathing, wearing leather shoes and engaging in marital relations. This fast is probably the most difficult of the year: The sun sets so late making the fast seem longer. The summer heat can dehydrate you. But most of all, unlike Yom Kippur, when you are surrounded by fellow Jews who are also fasting and busy with the liturgy, most Jews continue their daily routines on Tisha B’Av and are confronted with reminders of food.

According to Ira Milner:

While some people fast with little difficulty, most of us expect to feel more or less bedraggled after only a few hours. If fasting means headaches and assorted misery for you, it might be the fault of what you eat or drink beforehand. A few simple precautions in planning your pre-taanit menu could make all the difference.

Here is a summary of Ira Milner’s recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. 8-10 glasses of water (or other non-caffeinated beverage).
  • Small portions of animal proteins.
  • Increase starch and carbohydrates: Whole grain-bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes, legumes, unsalted popcorn.
  • Increase fiber: Vegetables and fruits with edible skins or seeds.
  • Decrease salt.
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas)
  • Avoid fried or spicy foods.

The Healthy Break-Fast

Glass of water. Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Derek Jensen (Tysto)

At the conclusion of the 25-hour Yom Kippur fast, your body deserves some tender loving care. The foods that are traditionally served to break the fast do not necessarily provide this. Here are some tips on the scientifically healthiest ways to replenish your body with nutrients.

Note: If you are reading this before the start of the fast, check out Strategic Feasting Before Fasting.

Water

The first thing to give your parched body is water. Indulge in one or two glasses of water before you approach the food.

Display of carved fruit. Photo by Tracy Hunter https://www.flickr.com/photos/tracyhunter/

Photo: Tracy Hunter

Fresh Fruit

While fresh fruit is usually served toward the end of the meal, following a fast it is good to begin with the fruit. Fruits are easy to digest, and give your body additional fluids and sugars. Apples, grapes, watermelon, pears, and melons are good choices. Avoid citrus fruits, as they may be too acidic at this point.

Salad of dark green leafy vegetables. Photo by Connoisseur 4 The Cure https://www.flickr.com/photos/73887528@N08/

Photo: Connoisseur 4 The Cure

Fresh Vegetables

A salad with a base of romaine lettuce, kale, or Swiss chard will provide vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to bring your body back into equilibrium. Add some chopped raw carrots, celery, and beets. Avoid commercial salad dressings, which contain too much salt. Make your own simple dressing with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a little lemon, or a yogurt (with live cultures) dressing.

Egg. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen

Eggs

Eggs are the most complete sources of protein. They are easy to digest, and quick to prepare. Serve some boiled eggs with the salad to renew your energy.

Vegetable Soup

Whip up a quick water-based vegetable soup with whole grains such as unpearled barley or brown rice and legumes such as lentils or beans. Use fresh vegetables, and to save time, canned legumes and quick cooking brown rice or barley.

Here is a recipe for a quick and easy vegetable soup that you can make from scratch:

Photo by Katrin Morenz https://www.flickr.com/people/26242865@N04

Photo: Katrin Morenz

Vegetable Soup
Adapted from About Food

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot.
  2. Add all the chopped vegetables.
  3. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the dry spices.
  5. Pour in the 8 cups of water.
  6. Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.

You may add cooked beans, lentils, or garbanzo beans.
Serve with quick cooking brown rice or another whole grain.

Strategic Feasting Before Fasting

During the 25-hour fast of Yom Kippur, many people suffer from dehydration, low sugar levels, and lack of caffeine. It is much easier to persevere and achieve success if you prepare well in advance.

Wean Yourself From Caffeine:

Photo: Nevit Dilmen

Photo: Nevit Dilmen.

The one thing regular coffee drinkers miss the most during Yom Kippur is coffee. They miss caffeine even more than water.

Coffee consumers should taper off their caffeine consumption during the week before Yom Kippur.

Avoid Dehydrating Foods:
[Read more…]

Rubio Yom Kippur Fundraiser Venue Features Hitler’s Art

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Personal library of Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow.

Today, as the sun is setting for Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement and the most holy day on the Jewish calendar – Senator Marco Rubio will hold a fundraiser in a Highland Park, Texas home that features two paintings by Adolf Hitler, a signed copy of Hitler’s autobiography, Mein Kampf, and a cabinet full of place settings and linens used by the Nazi leader.

Statues of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong in Crow's "Gallery of Fallen Dictators".

Statue in Crow’s “Gallery of Fallen Dictators” of a 1949 meeting of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

Dallas business tycoon Harlan Crow has an enormous collection of war memorabilia including “a ‘garden of tyrants’ that includes busts and statues of such notorious dictators as former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”

According to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

An event at a home with items like these is appalling at any time of the year. Adding insult to injury, Rubio is holding this event on the eve of the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Holding an event in a house featuring the artwork and signed autobiography of a man who dedicated his life to extinguishing the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity and indifference. There’s really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect. Mr. Rubio, who by the way, represents a sizable Jewish population in our home state of Florida, should cancel this tasteless fundraiser. It is astounding that the presence of these items that represent horror for millions of Jews the world over, would not stop Mr. Rubio or anyone on his team in their tracks when planning this event.

The Republican National Committee’s national press secretary Allison Moore attempted to switch the subject by attacking the messenger:

rather than manufacture a false controversy over a collection of historic memorabilia … Debbie Wasserman Schultz should have opposed the weak Clinton-Obama Iran deal that puts Israel’s safety in jeopardy.

Break the Yom Kippur Fast With Pashtidah

Photo by kirabutler https://www.flickr.com/photos/elixireleven/

Photo by kirabutler.

The best way to break the Yom Kippur fast is with easily digestible foods. Nutritionists recommend eggs for people who have abstained from food, and are ready to resume eating.

One of the best make-ahead egg dishes to prepare for this occasion is a pashtidah: a type of crustless savory pie.

The word pashtidah derives from the Italian word pasticcio, which means “pie.” The Italian pasticcio is a type of baked pie, with noodles, meat, or fish. Medieval Italian rabbis discussed the pashtidah in their deliberations over kashrut.

The pashtidah is a very popular dish in Israel, served everywhere from kibbutz dining halls to the prime minister’s residence. Here is a traditional Israeli recipe for a cheesy zucchini pashtidah. It is very easy to prepare, and is delicious hot or cold. Serve it with some crusty bread and a crisp green salad.

Zucchini-Cheese Pashtidah

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan, cheddar, or any sharp cheese of your choice
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 3 medium size zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 stalks fresh dill, parsley, or cilantro, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan.
  3. Fry the zucchini with the thyme.
  4. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. When the zucchini has softened, set it aside to cool.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cheese, flour, and dill.
  7. Add the zucchini.
  8. Pour the mixture into an oiled pie or muffin pan.
  9. Bake for between 30 and 40 minutes.
  10. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve it at the fast’s break.

Attending Yom Kippur Services Online


Rabbi Milgram practices blowing the shofar as Kabbalah4all.com‘s leader David Aharon Curtis prepares to begin his service.

— by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, my ankle was too swollen and painful to even hop over to the car to attend  the services. That created a rare rabbinic opportunity for me: attending free High Holiday services on-line.

I did not know what to expect at all, as I had only accidentally tripped over the possibility, when researching a quote online earlier in that week. Here is how it works, at least with Kabbalah4all.com, and the golden-voiced, inclusive service leader, composer of Jewish music, David Aharon Curtis.

Everything on the website, including Shabbat and festival services year-round, is for free. I registered as a member, and downloaded the evening section of the High Holiday Prayerbook, (machzor). Before sundown, I logged in for the Rosh Hashanah evening service.

More after the jump.
What were the services like? The liberal, gender-inclusive services were led by Curtis from what looked like inside of his home, in front of a sweet setup of holiday candles, a menorah, pomegranate and shofar.

It turns out that David Aharon Curtis has been streaming services for eight years already — what a boon to those in hospice or otherwise homebound. Some, it seemed, even gathered in small minyanim (groups of 10 or so) in remote areas without synagogues, tuned in and were able to have a service in this way.

The prayer books, provided as PDF downloads are interlinear: The transliterations, English and Hebrew, are not opposite each other, but rather are in the learner-friendly line-by-line approach. There are also lovely spiritual kavvanot, contemplative explanations, written in the text before each prayer.

The leader rarely showed his face, so one could mostly focus on praying along with the service leader’s lovely voice. A few nature slides and pictures of a Torah or shofar dominated the screen.

In the video to the left you can see an example of the leader’s approach to the Shema, a central prayer in most Jewish services. It’s easy to follow along in the English and transliteration, the leader chants in the Hebrew and occasional Aramaic of the Kaddish, using mostly traditional and a few contemporary melodies. I recognized a few melodies as attributable to Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory. My husband, raised in South Africa, was delighted at the relative absence of talk and simple presence of authentic prayer.

As David Aharon Curtis pointed out in his brief talk at the end of the service, while one can have a sense of connection and community in an on-line service, it’s difficult to meet and mingle afterward. The approach does seems to be catching on, a wide variety of free live-streaming High Holiday service options come up in a key word search, among them the radio broadcasts from New York’s Temple Emanuel and Central Synagogue.

Nashuva, a post-denominational California community that meshes spirituality with social action, is live-streaming their Kol Nidre service, to led by Rabbi Naomi Levy at 9:45 pm tonight. A well-known author and actist, Rabbi Levy is author of several books including Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration. In addition, there are a growing number of synagogues and havurot providing Shabbat and holiday services on-line to members in good standing; these typically require a password for viewing.

For those who are housebound, or far from a congregation this Yom Kippur, or at any point in the Jewish year and your Jewish practice permits it, services on-line will be a great help.