Reflections on Yom Kippur

— by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Jewish families across America and around the world will begin their observance of Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the year for the Jewish community.  Yom Kippur is a holy day of fasting, prayer, and atonement – bringing to a close a period of our calendar dedicated to reflection and forgiveness.  During these ten days, we give ourselves once again to values at the core of the ancient Jewish faith: justice, community, and repairing the world.  As we emerge from these Days of Awe, we move forward, committing ourselves to the good we will do in the year ahead.

On Wednesday morning, we read from the Book of Isaiah:

This is the fast I desire: to unlock the shackles of wrongdoing, to untie the bonds of those burdened, to let the oppressed go free.  It is to share your bread with the hungry, welcome the poor into your home.  When you see the naked you must clothe him and never ignore your neighbors.

This passage, espousing values so firmly at the heart of our religious tradition, represents the ideals of our great country that we cannot forget.  At the core of the American spirit is the imperative to improve our communities, work with our neighbors, and never abandon those in need.

There is a clear connection between this sacred fast and the words found on the Statue of Liberty, written by Jewish American Emma Lazarus.  Together, we heed the call of Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

From the call of Isaiah to the dreams of our forefathers that we still work to fulfill, these Jewish and American values reflect an innate vision to support one another and build a better world.  In 5773, my hope is that we can continue to support one another and together build a more peaceful and just society.  I wish you a meaningful fast – and that you and your loved ones may be signed and sealed in the Book of Life.
Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen


Leave a Reply