So Yom Kippur has come and gone. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the easiest of days. The fast itself wasn’t too bad, although can a 25-hour fast ever be ‘good’ by any standards? The process of reflection and of taking stock of what is going on in my life has been difficult, and the experience of opening oneself up emotionally to the meaning of the day can be draining and hard in general. This being said, this was one of the most meaningful Yom Kippur’s I have experienced to date.
Yom Kippur, one of the most important days in the Jewish calendar, falls this year on Saturday 30 September. I mentioned in a previous post that on Rosh Hashanah, which takes place just over a week before Yom Kippur, God begins taking account of all our actions in the previous year in order to judge us for the upcoming year. On Yom Kippur, this judgement is completed and sealed. Thus, Yom Kippur – which means ‘Day of Atonement’ – is the day on which we atone for all our negative deeds and appeal to God to look favourably upon us before our fate for the upcoming year is sealed.
This week, we come face to face with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is an auspicious time in the Jewish calendar, and is filled with many interesting practices and rituals. Most importantly, it is the time of year when we as Jews take account of where we are in our lives, and I personally have come to love this time of year for the opportunity it forces upon me to reevaluate where I am as a Grahamstonian Jew.
Tomorrow night Jews around the world begin celebrating the festival of Shavuot. Shavuot is a two day long festival in the diaspora (one day in Israel), and will end at sundown on Thursday evening. The festival commemorates the day that the Jews received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sanai around 3 300 years ago, and the day the Jewish people officially became a nation.
With Pesach upon us, I am currently obsessing over one of my favourite movies of all time: The Prince of Egypt. Directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells in conjunction with composer Hans Zimmer, The Prince of Egypt is an animated musical which tells the Passover story focusing on the Jews’ ultimate exodus from Egypt. While some parts of the story have been highlighted, exaggerated or downplayed, the movie is based on the biblical story and is quite accurate in its story line.
Where I come from, watching The Prince of Egypt at least once in one’s lifetime is somewhat of a rite of passage for any Jewish child or teenager. I personally fell in love with the movie the first time I watched it, and each year when Pesach rolls around, I honour this rite of passage in my own way by making sure I sit down and watch it at least once. I highly recommend watching The Prince of Egypt: not only is it educational, but its catchy tunes and excellent direction make it a must-watch for the entire family.
In the spirits of Pesach, I have made a list of my favourite songs from the movie to give you a bit of a taste of the movie, and in the hopes of inspiring at least one reader to go on and watch it.
In the Jewish world, the festival of Pesach (Passover) is upon us. Pesach is an eight day festival (celebrated this year from sundown on Monday night until sundown of Tuesday 18 April) which commemorates the Jew’s exodus from Egypt some 3300 years ago. The Hebrew word ‘Pesach’ means to exempt, to pass over or to spare, and refers to how the Jews were ‘saved’ from God’s wrath against the Egyptians shortly before they were freed. The Jews’ exodus from Egypt marks the moment in history when the Jews stopped being slaves, began freeing themselves of the slave mentally and began working towards becoming a true nation. Pesach is the time in the Jewish calendar when we celebrate freedom and are particularly aware of God’s role in our destiny as the Jewish people.