It’s almost Yom Kippur here in San Diego.
Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. Rosh Hashanah some 10 days ago was the beginning of the Jewish New Year and now, starting sundown tonight, is the beginning of Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is not one of those fun days in the Jewish calendar. It is a day of fasting. A day of remembering how one was not who they hoped to be. It is a day of hoping that one’s words are strong enough and that they can be forgiven to be "sealed in the book of life” for the new year.
I used to beg for people’s forgiveness in the 10 days in between the holidays. I would ask each person directly and follow the letter of the custom I learned. This year, I have instead thought hard about the difficulties of this year and the ways that I tried to meet them. I wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure. And I wasn’t totally horrible either.
I’m always telling others to be gentle to themselves so this year, I want to be gentle to myself around this holiday.
I want to remind myself and others that it’s okay if we are not perfect at this holiday or at any other time, really. We are enough doing the best that we can. I really do believe that.
This year has been a trying year to say the least. I know that there were places where I could have done better and I want to honor that too. I want to learn from the past. So last week I sat down and thought about where were my areas of strength and of weakness.
And then, I did an online letting go (Tashlich) ritual. It’s available until tomorrow during morning Yom Kippur services where all of the responses will be spoken out by the Rabbi and where she will ask for forgiveness for all of us.
I usually cast my sins to the running water, like the Ocean, or burn the written down manifestations of them at a bonfire. This time, I did it electronically, and it really worked. I felt so much better afterwards.
If you need some inspiration about what sins or mistakes you might have made in the new year, here is a Feminist Tashlich found on Sefaria that might pique your interest. It sure did mine.
To all the Jewish people commemorating this Yom Kippur holiday, I wish you an easy fast if you are fasting, and a meaningful day, in whatever way you will spend it.
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the next year.
Abigail Brucha Weissman, Psy.D.