Yom Kippur - 5774 (2013)


Beginning this Friday evening and continuing through Saturday night, the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will be observed by Jews throughout the world.

Throughout the season leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews reflect on our behavior. This self-reflection reaches its pinnacle on Yom Kippur.

As part of the liturgy of the Yom Kippur services, starting with the evening service, and repeated throughout all the services of the day of Yom Kippur, we say a prayer called the vidui, the confessional, ten times. The vidui is an alphabetical list of sins which the community recites together - not I have sinned, but we have sinned. Why do we recite this list "from a to z" as it were? Not because we have each committed all these sins, but because this list represents the idea that we as a community, are collectively responsible. When a member of our community does wrong, the community, too, is responsible for both the fact that they were able to miss the mark, and also for helping the person get back on the right path.

The great commentator and philosopher, Maimonides, wrote in his book of commandments that one is not permitted to say, "I am not going to do wrong; if another does wrong, that is between him and God." In the Jewish tradition, we must understand that we bear responsibility not just for ourselves, but for our community as well.

APN understands well the need to act as a community to make a better world. In this year, 5774 , may we find the humility to admit to our wrongs as a community, may we find the strength to fix those wrongs, and may we find the courage to act as a community to improve the lives of others.

May you have an easy fast.

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