September 23, 2020
Yom Kippur from Home
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is often spent in synagogue. Of course, this year for most will be different. While we know we can still fast wherever we are, we wanted to find out how we can make the day as meaningful as possible from home.
We spoke to three of Sydney’s rabbis about some of their ideas for a meaningful Yom Kippur during COVID-19.
Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio
At Emanuel Synagogue all our Yom Kippur services are being live-streamed this year, so one way to make the time special would be to connect with our services online and hear the prayers, the music, the reflections of our clergy.
Another approach is to create sacred space in your home. Allocate a special prayer or reflection space for the Yamim Nora’im, decorated in white like the synagogue would be, perhaps add some flowers, make the space special and connect with the prayers either online or at home, reading the machzor, or taking stock of the year that has passed and looking ahead to the one which is to come. Ask yourself what you would change and what you would keep the same.
Rabbi Benjamin Elton
The Great Synagogue
Firstly, before Yom Kippur write out some specific things you have done that you regret and on Yom Kippur itself confess them to God and make a resolution not to repeat them.
Secondly, although you will miss the five services in synagogue, make time to pray five times during the day: once at night, again the next morning, at noon, in the early afternoon and in the last hour before it gets dark.
And lastly, make peace with all those who live with you, forgive them and ask forgiveness before the end of the day.
Rabbi Danny Eisenberg
Yom Kippur is a day of healing of relationships. Each one of us has been born into a unique space in the universe, with a unique set of relationships. Each one of us was brought into this world in order to try and improve our own little corner with its particular circumstances and associated relationships. No one else can do our job for us.
That responsibility is ours, and ours alone, and we can do it in our own space. We have to ask ourselves: Do our relationships need healing? If they do, can we do to heal them? And even if they don’t need healing, could they do with some improvement?
Healing relationships partly involves considering how we treat others. But it also involves thinking about how we relate to those who haven’t treated us appropriately. While it may not be our responsibility to take the first step, if we can try to rise above pettiness we have the ability to heal damaged relationships.
The Sages tell us that if we take an easy-going attitude with regard to those who have wronged us, we will also be judged favourably, in an easy-going way with regard to our own misdeeds.