Today Jews all over the world celebrate Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”) is about forgiveness: forgiving others for the wrongs they may have committed in our lives, seeking others’ forgiveness for our own shortcomings, and seeking God’s forgiveness as well. Jews traditionally observe Yom Kippur as the most important day of the Hebrew calendar for intense self-reflection: Why are we here? What does it mean to be alive in the few decades that mark human existence? What is Jewish soul meant to accomplish on earth? And how can we better fulfill this mission in the new year that has just begun?
Yom Kippur is mandated in the Pentateuch (known in Jewish tradition as the Five Books of Moses). According to Leviticus 23:26 – 28, the Lord tells Moses, “On the tenth day of the seventh month you shall afflict you souls and do no work. For on this day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you. Before God, you shall be cleansed of all your sins.”
Judaism is one of the religions Americans observe in the country. What can be said with confidence about the world’s religions is that no one knows exactly how many there are, although the best estimate is 4,200. Most of these religions have representatives in our country. Americans believe that one religion is certainly not superior to another. What might still be true are the words of the great French writer Voltaire: “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
The Concise Oxford Dictionary says that religion is “the belief in a superhuman controlling power, especially in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship.” This is a loose definition that encompasses many beliefs and traditions.
In the religious calendar, the years prior to Jesus’ birth were counted down from year one and designated “Before Christ,” abbreviated B.C. The years following his birth were designated A.D. (Anno Domini, “The year of our Lord”). However, as non-Christian countries adopted the Gregorian calendar, it was deemed appropriate that the meaning of the years be changed to “Common Era,” abbreviated C.E. and “Before Common Era,” abbreviated B.C.E.
I was raised in communistic Poland when the government tried to turn all of us into atheists. It really did not work, that only made people have two lives – one for God, and one for the government and career. I believe in God who loves. Therefore, nobody will convince me that God has a big ego and expects his/her believers to kill in order to prove “love for God.”
I love what Frank Lloyd Wright said: "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” I pray and celebrate God by taking care of people, animals, trees and plants. I also hope that our planet will survive for the future generations to come.
Happy holidays to all my Jewish friends! May the love for God make us all united not divided!
“Jewish Holiday and Sabbath Journal” by Edward Hoffman
“World Religions. Beliefs and Traditions form Around the Globe” by Robert Pollock
and what I learned from my great grandparents, grandparents, parents and all the teachers I had in my life.