How was your Yom Kippur?

How was your Yom Kippur?

There are no “correct” answers to that question.  Some of us fasted, some didn’t. Some had great insights, some didn’t. Some had an easy time of it, some found it very difficult.

As for me, different parts of the day were, well, different. Kol Nidre reminded me again how beautiful Jewish liturgy (services) are to me. My entire congregation gathered together at one time and prayed as one. Our rabbi gave a wonderful sermon, and I’ll be thinking about it for a while.

Yom Kippur day was long and tiring and good. A lot came up for me that I need to ponder. I had a lot of ideas that I didn’t write down, because it was Yom Kippur, and maybe they’ll come back to me later. The outside of me was still and the inside of me was busy.

Yizkor was hard. My mother died in June. A dear friend died last week. I cried. That’s OK, it’s exactly what I needed to do. I am sad about Mama and I miss Mike.

The end, Neilah (“locking”) was a rush. It always give me a rush: us all standing together and chanting and the gates slowly closing. I couldn’t stand as long as I’d like to, but I stood for the final words.

And now…. Sukkot is coming!

How was your Yom Kippur? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “How was your Yom Kippur?”

  1. Our Yom Kippur experience has become inspiring. Year after Year. We belong to a congregation where we go to Kol Nidre at the 9pm service. Walking into the synagogue when it’s dark outside, and hearing Kol Nidre on the cello, creates a haunting feeling; something unlike any other day of the year. Yom Kippur ends with a Neilah which ends on a very high note. A Klezmer band on the pulpit, and the congregation sings in unison, which gives us a Unity of Purpose. And, all of the babies born in the last year, are brought to the pulpit by their parents.
    Sadness is created by the feeling at Kol Nidre, and hopefulness is the feeling at Neilah.
    Very Inspiring.

  2. My Yom Kippur was incomplete and somewhat unsatisfying. I couldn’t avoid working Saturday night, which meant that I wan’t able to attend Yizkor or Neilah at all, and in the end decided that I needed to stay home and rest in the afternoon as well.

    My community’s High Holyday services are changing in ways that I don’t enjoy. The music that has always meant a great deal to me is being replaced by happy-clappy pop-type selections that leave me unmoved and irritated. The people in the community are great, but the quest to make the davening more “modern” and “relevant” to those on one end of the spectrum of preferences is increasingly pushing me further and further away.

  3. Rabbi, you captured it just right: Yom Kippur day was long and tiring and good. It was the first time we’ve attended everything: Kol Nidre, and morning and evening services on Yom Kippur. In my eagerness to be helpful I signed up for three, one-hour slots of being a greeter in those 24 hrs, which meant I was completely wiped out by the time Neila started. Oops. I felt bad that I just could not stand, but oh well and it was just so awesome to be there and to have experienced the whole thing. We got invited to a new friend’s house for a break-the-fast which was really nice, too. I hear you, about having significant insights during the services and wanting to write them down. Maybe this will be a good excuse to find some quiet time in the coming weeks to settle our minds and re-remember. One last thought: I discovered that 5778 is divisible by 18–by 321! So what a good theme for the year, right? “3 – 2 – 1: Life!” 🙂

  4. Yizkor was very hard for me, too, having lost Dad in July and my mother-in-law in early September. It was beautiful but, ohhh so painful. I fasted for 16 of 25 hours, but I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and had to stop fasting when I started shaking, soooo… Other than that, it was a beautiful time. It’s my favorite holiday.

  5. Rabbi, condolences and prayers for comfort regarding deaths of your Mother and friend. Difficult time for me, Yom Kippur, as so many regrets seem to crowd out the positive events/deeds. But Sukkot helps balance it all. Our congregation lost one of the founding members just before Rosh haShanah, so that made it an even more somber time. May your year go well.

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