Yom Kippur

The Season of Healing

Alden Solovy

This is the season of healing:
Of healing our hearts and minds,
Of healing the moments we share with each other
And the moments we share with ourselves.

This is the season of memory:
Of remembering our parents and grandparents,
The love of generations,
The holiness of our ancestors.

This is the season of stillness,
The season of silence and quiet:
Of deep breaths,
Of open eyes,
Of compassion and consolation.

This is the season of healing:
The season of grief turning to wonder,
Of loss turning toward hope,
The season that binds this year to the next,
The season that frees this year from the next,
The season that heralds the redemption of spirit
And our return to God’s Holy Word.

© 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, and teacher. His teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout the U.S. Before making aliyah to Israel in 2012, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, Evanston, IL, and a regular participant in worship at B'nai Jeshoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL. He’s the author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing. His writing also appears in several CCAR Press books, including an anthology of his work, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Meditation Before Yom Kippur for One Who Cannot Fast

Though Yom Kippur is a fasting holiday — a day during which we abstain from eating, drinking, and even brushing our teeth or using perfumes — Jewish tradition recognizes that fasting is not a safe practice for all Jews. For this reason, children under the age of 13 and individuals who are pregnant or ill are not required to fast in Yom Kippur. For those who fall into this category, the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services provides a special meditation to recite instead, written by Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub.

Ribbono shel Olam / Master of the Universe;
Creator of All, Source of All Life,
Who Knows What is Deep in Human Hearts,
Who Nurtures Every Living Being:

As You know, dear God,
Yom Kippur is fast approaching, and because of my condition,
I am not able to keep the traditional fast —
I cannot abstain totally from eating.

On this Day of Atonement, this Sabbath of Sabbaths,
this year and every year,
it is so central to join the people of Israel
in denying ourselves food and drink for one day
so that we focus on correcting our misdeeds,
on knowing our mortality;
on reaching for a life of Torah, mitzvot, and lovingkindness;
on You.

You know, dear God, that it is not my intent
to be apart from our people and our tradition.
My current state of health makes it unsuitable for me to fast

So, dear God, I turn to You now in sincerity and openness:
Help me in the coming year to do my best in guarding my health.
Help us, Your children, learn how to protect our bodies from harm.
Help us support others in caring for their tzelem Elokim, their Image of God.
Teach us to help one another grow and thrive in Body, Mind, and Spirit.

Guide caring family and health care professionals in their partnering with you
to bring healing if not cure, support and strength if not an end to symptoms.
And if there is an opportunity for me to help others who suffer
by doing something they need or by being attentive company —
Grant me the ability to do this mitzvah with love and devotion. 

Rofeh khol basar / Healer of all living creatures:
I thank You for the breath that is in me
for the community of Israel that lives
for the possibilities of today and tomorrow.

May my eating be as a fast;
May it be dedicated to You, to T'shuvah
to the Renewal and Restoration of my Relationship
to You, to Others, and to Myself.

Yom Kippur Worship Services: Haftarah Blessings

Special inserts included in the final paragraph for Yom Kippur

The blessing after the reading of haftarah always sanctifies the day on which it is read. Throughout most of the year, that day is Shabbat, but haftarah is also read on the High Holidays. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur the text changes from the familiar Shabbat text to refer to the holiday. If either Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, then the blessing mentions both the holiday and Shabbat. These changes only occur in the final paragraph of the blessing after the haftarah. The blessing before the haftarah does not change.


Hebrew Text for the Blessing following the Reading of the Haftarah on Yom Kippur

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam
tzur kol haolamim tzaddik b’chol hadorot,
haEil haneeman, haomer v’oseh,
ham’dabeir um’kayeim, shekol d’varav emet vatzedek.

Al haTorah, v’al haavodah, v’al han’viim, (v’al yom HaShabbat hazeh),
v’al Yom HaKippurim hazeh,
shenatata lanu, Adonai Eloheinu, (lik’dushah v’lim’nuchah),
Lim’chilah v’lis’lichah ulchaparah, l’chavod ul’tifaret.
Al hakol Adonai Eloheinu, anachnu modim lach um’var’chim otach, yitbarach
shimcha b’fi kol chai tamid l’olam vaed.
Ud’varcha emet v’kayam laad. Baruch atah, Adonai,
Melech mocheil v’soleiach laavonoteinu, v’laavonot amo beit Yisrael,
u’maavir ashmoteinu b’chol shanah v’shanah, Melech al kol haaretz,
(m’kadeish HaShabbat v) Yisrael vYom Hakippurim.

Without the Shabbat insertions:
With the Shabbat insertions:

Yom Kippur Blessings: For Starting Observance of the Day

It is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat a large meal, called a seudat mafseket (a concluding meal), before Yom Kippur begins. This meal is customarily completed before sundown. Because it is a festive meal, many people choose to include bread, and begin with haMotzi, the blessing over the challah.

Uncover the challah and say:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min haaretz.

We praise You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Cut or break off pieces of challah for each family member to eat.

Even when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, we follow these customs. However, because we eat the meal before sundown, it’s not yet Shabbat and so we light the candles after the meal. When the meal is over and the sun begins to set, we begin the holiday, Shabbat, and our fast by lighting and blessing candles.

After the meal, light the candles and say:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam asher kid'shanu
b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir shel [shabbat v']yom hakippurim.

We praise you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot, and commands us to kindle the light of [Shabbat and] Yom Kippur.

Audio of the Candle Blessing on a Weekday
Audio of the Candle Blessing on Shabbat

We do not include Kiddush (the blessing over the wine) because once the candles have been lit and blessed, we are fasting. 

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