The Importance of Yom Kippur

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock

Sasha Kostakis, Contributor


 Recently, Jews celebrated the holiday Yom Kippur. This holiday is
also known as ‘The Day of Atonement’. Although this is a Jewish holiday, it’s important for people of other religions to take a day to reflect and apologize for the things they’ve done wrong. Especially with the place we are in our country, it’s important to hold yourself accountable for things you’ve done so that we can all move forward as a community and repair the damage we have done to our country


            Ten days after the Jewish new year is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur started on the evening of September 27th and ended on the evening of the 28th. On this holiday we fast for 24 hours starting at 6 pm of the first day and ending at 6 pm on the last. During our fast, we do not work. Instead, we reflect on our sins and ask for forgiveness, we attend a High Holliday service, and we take a break from our indulgences, for example TV and other electronics (which doesn’t make the fasting any easier). On Yom Kippur, we tell the story of Jonah and the Whale. A long time ago, God asked a young prophet named Jonah to go to Nineveh, a city in modern day Iraq, and ask them to repent, or ask forgiveness, for their sins, or else God would wreak havoc on them. Jonah knew that if Nineveh repented, God wouldn’t hurt them, and the prophecy wouldn’t come true. Jonah worried that if this happened, the people of Nineveh would think he was a ‘false prophet’. Jonah tried to run away and somehow got swallowed by a whale (don’t you just hate when that happens). He then realized that running away from his problems didn’t solve anything. He asked God for one more chance, and the whale coughed him up. Jonah ran to Nineveh and commanded it’s citizens to repent. Jonah ended up saving Nineveh and changing it’s fate because he ran toward his problems instead away. On Yom Kippur, we remember Jonah and we reflect on our actions and try to be better people in the next year. After the services, we blow the shofar (a fancy, ceremonial horn), and the High Holidays have come to a close.


            Everyone in our country wants a good, happy place to live. The only way to achieve this type of society is to reflect upon our actions as individuals, as a community, and as a country. In some cases, we need to repair systems in our communities as they might not be helping us anymore. The most important thing we have to do, though, is realize we made mistakes so that we don’t make them anymore. Once we acknowledge that there is a problem, we can start to fix them. America is in the state that it is because of leaders that refuse to acknowledge their faults and refuse to see the faults in the systems we have in place. We have to realize that in order to create big change, we have to start small.


            Although, Yom Kippur does not exist outside of the Jewish religion, it’s important to take a day to reflect on yourself. What have you done well? What have you done wrong? How can we move forward if we don’t acknowledge that we have done things wrong, that systems that we have in place have done things wrong, and that we as a community have done things wrong? Without self-reflection, self-improvement is impossible. May this new year be filled with reflection, responsibility, and improvement.