How atoning is kinda like fitness.

Irreverent, but closest thing I possess to a pious photo.

Tonight at sundown starts the one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar

It’s also a day (or more aptly put a process) to which I look forward all year.

I readily admit Im not the most religious of misfits.

I tend to claim Im a cultural Jew (you know, as opposed to the JewJews who actually attend religious services weekly)—but even that claim can be a stretch.

I fully intend to celebrate all the holidays “culturally”–but I lack much cooking prowess & REALLY what’s more part of the Jewish culture (or any for that matter) than the food & the process of creating it with LOVE.

Let’s just say I frequent the local bakery a lot for Shabbat and my last foray into hamantashen making was a mess.

Kitchen skills lacking aside, the Sabbath is very important to my family.

Ren Man comes home early, we unplug en masse, recite the traditional Shabbat prayers and remain present & family-focused for the remainder of the night.

I look forward to Shabbat starting Monday morning in the same way I begin to long for next Yom Kippur pretty much right after the day’s fast is broken.

Yom Kippur means day of atonement and, for those unfamiliar, that’s what I’ll be doing from sundown tonight until sundown Saturday.

We go to synagogue.

We pray and murmur offerings of apology for wrong doings the previous 365 days.

We are forgiven.

(that’s the short version–but it gives you the gist)

There is, however, a catch.

Tonight and tomorrow we are offered a last opportunity to make amends to G-d but Yom Kippur prayers dont “cover” sins or wrong doings against other people.

This, because I am nothing if not a misfit, is my favorite part of Yom Kippur.

We are told in order to be ‘written in the book of life’ we need to seek reconciliation with the people we’ve wronged and right these offenses if at all possible.

All this straightening up & flying right must be done before Yom Kippur/sundown tonight.

This year Im less busy atoning than I have been in years past.

That said, I still take today to reflect on who I am, think long, hard and honestly about whom Ive slighted, wronged or even gossiped about, and I reach out, apologize and ask for forgiveness.

While it’s hard (and at times embarrassing) it serves as a yearly reminder we all have the choice of what kind of person we wish to be.

I may make mistakes and wander off my path (as with fitness. GO ME bringing these religious mumblings all back to FITNESS!) but Im never as far away from the person I strive to be as my very next action.

For the religious Jew Yom Kippur represents a sort of spiritual rebirth.

For this misfit cultural Jew it represents an overall opportunity for cleansing and rebirth.

On this Yom Kippur I am grateful.

On this Yom Kippur I am reflecting.

On this Yom Kippur, almost more than any other, I am ready and eager for repentance and rebirth.

To my Jewish readers may you be written in the book of life.

To my non-Jewish readers THANK YOU for indulging my religious ramblings and accidental fitness-tie in.



Never miss a post. Enter your email to get my latest posts delivered to your inbox.


  1. says

    I am not Jewish but love your holy days and traditions. They are filled with such personal meaning. Plus of course, there is much that crosses over into Christianity and we Christians would do well to remember these things.

    May you also be written in the book of life.

  2. Healthy Mama says

    I am not Jewish, but I love when you say we have the choice of person we want to be.

    I’d disagree in one place and add we have that choice DAILY.

  3. Lia says

    I remember growing up being jealous of my Jewish friends who had the day off from school.
    As I’ve grown I grew jealous of the chance to repent.

    I’d not thought about the fact I could do it anyway.

    Interesting fitness twist.

  4. says

    Love this concise explanation of Yom Kippur. I have always heard it was a day of atonement, but never really knew much abuot how that all works. Thank you for your clear and concise (aka In Practice in the Real World) explanation!

  5. says

    Every year I admire this holiday and wish that my religion had something of the same sort. I think it’s a fantastic tradition. It sounds to me like you make it yours and I’m a believer that that’s how to get the most out of it. Happy holiday to you!

  6. Miz says

    welllll I dont really fast. I do skip breakfast and lunch and I dont drink etc but I tend to eat WAAAY EARLIER than everyone else.
    Like right after services.
    I learned at a young age that for me when I fast all I think about is FOOD (ATTENTION!!! ATTENTION!!! ANOTHER FITNESS TIE IN :)).
    I obsess about what I will eat at the “break fast” later that night.

    I make food to eat at the “break fast” later (<—-dieting anyone? :)).

    When I have a smalllll not fancy NOT NECESSARILY WHAT IM CRAVING :) snack I can focus on the meaning of the holiday.

    atoning, repenting, reflecting and not my empty belly.

    It's just what works for me.

  7. says

    All Jews are cultural Jews, don’t you think? And no where are we commanded to be good cooks. Excellent post! May you be written for a sweet new year.

  8. says

    I hate to say it, but your approach to Yom Kippur is as authentically religious as any I’ve heard. A cultural Jew skips the soulwork but shows up for the break fast because “that’s what Jews do at the end of Yom Kipppur.” You, my dear, are choosing to show up for the hard part. May your Yom Kippur be one of introspection as you enter this new year.

  9. Cynthia says

    This is a great reminder of the reason for Yom Kippur. But I love most that you do it as a family. Such a great tradition to teach.

  10. says

    LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like you, I am not really a religious person per se & find my own way although I say I am Jewish. I was born & brought up that way – NOT conservative but our own version – I loved this about my parents! I love your take on it & I think that is what I will do….

    Now that most of my elder relatives & my parents have passed, not much celebrating of the holidays. I miss those get togethers & the fantastic food my mom & dad made – they were great cooks unlike me who can only do the very basic – my healthy easy stuff.. not good ole fashioned holiday food….

    I wish you you the best!

    ME – NO FASTING! 😉

  11. Tamara says

    I love the message that religion need not follow strict rules. Consciously choosing how one wants to be spiritual just might lead to a more meaningful celebration of religious holidays. Love that you do it YOUR way!

  12. says

    Have an easy fast Miz. I love your messages.

    While we are not attending services this year, we do come together as a family to discuss the holiday and talk about the impact on our lives. My favorite thing about Yom Kippur is that we are instructed to directly atone to the people against whom we’ve wronged. G-d will only forgive us for transgressions against him/her. We’re on our own for the rest. I love that.

  13. says

    I love this reflection, and the many thoughtful comments. Especially the reminder that we choose who we will be every day, and Rebecca’s comment that you are much more than a cultural Jew if you’re showing up for the hard work! If we all took time to focus on atonement and reconciliation we would have a much more harmonious and peaceful world.

  14. says

    I’ve always loved the idea of Yom Kippur. The idea of making peace with each other and starting fresh. :) It’s’ a great way to focus on the things that matter…

  15. says

    Its such as you read my mind! You appear to grasp so much approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something. I feel that you just could do with some p.c. to pressure the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  16. says

    I particularly love the posts you write about the Jewish holidays and observances. Although I don’t identify with any specific religion I find lessons in all of them. When I was a little girl I had a friend who was Jewish and I remember telling my mother once that I “felt” Jewish.

    G’mar Chatima Tova

  17. says

    i think i said this last year when you posted…but I totally dig the jewish holidays and kinda wish my parents had been on that path! :)

    I’m going to unplug in a show of solidarity and to rest my brain

  18. says

    Sweet New Year to you and yours, Miz! This is a lovely way to share your traditions and the meaning they have for you. Gives me food for thought…

  19. says

    Thanks for another great post Miz, this part in particularly resonated with me:

    While it’s hard (and at times embarrassing) it serves as a yearly reminder we all have the choice of what kind of person we wish to be.

    The other day, a guy drove in the exit, and I was grabbing stuff for dinner and in a hurry to get home to my husband and baby, and he apologized to me ( I honked to let him know but it was too late) and I yelled, “read the sign dummy”. I immediately regretted it. He made a mistake, I make mistakes, I certainly just did. I am constantly working on being the person I wish to be.

  20. says

    Wow, this message couldn’t come at a better time. I seriously wish I could just tell you the story but I can’t since it’s work related. All you need to know is that this post, is a reminder to me to focus on being the person that I should be and not get lost in the noise.

    Being true to myself will keep me on MY path and not the path. The path I want to be matter how hard it is.

    Thanks Miz!

  21. says

    Happy Yom Kippur! Feeling a great sisterhood with you in trying to do our best, find our best, give our best for a family and a God that we both adore. I hope you find this holiday particularly renewing!

  22. says

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

    Love the T-Shirt. At Christmas my son wears a t-shirt that says go Jesus it’s your birthday. We all celebrate in our own way, right?

    Thank you for sharing your religous ramblings with me. I enjoyed reading it.

  23. says

    I’m not a religious person on any level. That said, I do try to stay connected to my inner “spiritual” (for lack of a better word) nature/side to keep myself centered and present.

    I love the concept of atoning for past misdeeds. I do something similar each year on Dec. 31 through a Bowl Burning ceremony. I take some time and write out on slips of paper any resentments, misdeeds, bad attitudes, things I want to let go of, etc. When I’m finished, I take them outside along with a clay bowl I have. One by one, I read the slip of paper aloud followed by the words, “I release you,” and then light it on fire and place it into the bowl to burn away. I continue this process until all the slips of paper are gone. Once I’ve let go of all those things, I go back inside and then take another piece of paper to write down the personal growth things I want to work on for the next year. Once I’ve identified all of those, I come up with a single word to kind of encompass them all which becomes my word for the year. As an example, my word for 2012 is Intentional because many of my goals for this year went back to the concept I mentioned earlier about being centered and present in my life. I’m trying to focus on living my life with intent rather than just floating around letting things happen.

    I know it probably sounds really hippy-dippy, but it really does help me soooooo much. I feel like I’m ending the old year by letting go of all the things that are holding me back and can start the New Year fresh and rejuvenated.

  24. Myra says

    I fast. My daughter does too. She’s reading a potion of the story of Jonah in hebrew in our synagogue this afternoon. We’re not going to services for the first time in years. Our observance is completely oyrs and unique to us. You have been instrumental in helping me find myself.

  25. says

    You’re in point of fact a good webmaster. The web site loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a wonderful task in this subject!