Your Holiday Experiences: Yom Kippur Experience

I have gone to Yom Kippur services in a synagogue every year of my life, and at age 13 and beyond I fasted during the entire day. Since both my parents work as synagogue educators, I am used to spending the entire day at synagogue and in services. The same thing occurred this year. I went to synagogue with my family, I attended all the services from Kol Nidre through Neilah, and I fasted the entire time. During the youth service (this is Reform congregation), my younger sister performed Kol Nidre, and my father did half of the reading for the book of Jonah. In between services I had time to see other Jews from my area that I hadn’t seen in a while and catch up. Strange as it may seem, the most meaningful part of the Yom Kippur service is always the combination of our Yizkor (memorial) service and Neilah service. The Yizkor service is a big thing because I tend to limit the amount of time that I spend thinking about friends and family that have passed during the rest of the year, and this service gives me a chance to relish my memories of them and allow myself to give in to some of the pain from their absence. Then, climbing out of this kind of emotional experience and having thought all day about what I can do to improve myself, Neilah services come as a final sprint and release from the emotional pressure that I put myself under during the rest of the day. Being surrounded by my family while this goes on makes it an even nicer, more personal experience.

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Michael Ashery

Points Earned: 5