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Yom Kippur inspires reflection, forgiveness

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 01:09

Yom Kippur

Josh McKenna

Students around the country are in the middle of their year, while others are beginning anew.

The Jewish New Year began with Rosh Hashana and is now culminating with the observance of Yom Kippur. The 10 days in between are a process, a time of forgiveness and reflection.

Cory Nagelberg, a junior agricultural economics major, described Rosh Hashanah as a celebration, and Yom Kippur as a more somber event.

“It’s all about concentrating on what you’re praying, what you’re thinking, your relationship with God,” Nagelberg said. “It’s the end of a whole year’s worth of good and bad things, and it’s kind of the final appeal to be judged in a good light.”

Traditionally, this has been a period of time for individuals to request forgiveness from anyone they may have wronged throughout the year. In an era of social media, this has evolved from a face-to-face exchange to a text message or Facebook status. Nagelberg said he has seen many statuses and tweets making blanket statements requesting forgiveness for any possible wrongs.

Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff, a director of the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center, said that this social media custom is not a sincere form of the task.

“Asking forgiveness on Facebook or Twitter might make the annual religious task less onerous, but that does not let you off the hook from looking someone in the eye and offering a sincere apology,” Lazaroff said. “It is about as sincere as the level that those contacts really are your ‘friends’ and ‘followers.’”

Sarah Van Dam, a sophomore psychology major, said she does not agree with the practice of asking for forgiveness at a specific time of the year.

“I believe that if you have to say sorry for something, you don’t need to wait until Yom Kippur,” Van Dam said.

Yom Kippur is also a time to focus on community and family. Van Dam said this is the personal focus for her during the holiday and that she is attempting to return to Venezuela to see her family.

“I don’t feel that close to God,” Van Dam said. “I do feel close to my family and my community.”

Though practices may differ, Yom Kippur is highly regarded as an important holiday within the Jewish community. Van Dam said it is the most respected and observed of the Jewish holidays.

Lazaroff explained why this is so.

“We are judged. The question is: are we going to be granted a good year? Are we going to live? The actual prayer itself says we are judged as who’s going to live, who’s going to die, who’s going to be rich, who’s going to be poor, who’s going to suffer, who’s not,” Lazaroff said.

Nagelberg said Yom Kippur is a very somber holiday, and there are religious practices performed during the day.

“We fast, we pray, there’s a part of the service that involves striking yourself that’s a physical representation of the anguish you should feel for the sins you’ve committed,” Nagelberg said.

Though Yom Kippur is a day of judgment, it is also a day of forgiveness and renewal.

“Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in reality, are just the beginning,” Lazaroff said.


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