Yom Kippur September 2017 - STAY HUNGRY: A reflection on the holiest day of the year

Jenny and I watching the sun go down during our time together in Florida


I've heard it said, more than once, that the practice of abstaining from food is misnamed. It should be called a 'slow,' not a 'fast!'


Never was that designation more apt than back in my childhood days in Cleveland, Ohio. Every Yom Kippur, (the Day of Atonement celebrated for centuries by Jewish people worldwide,) we would try to be very 'religious,' not eating ANYTHING for as long as we could. (Even brushing your teeth was something from which you were to abstain because you might drink water. I ignored that rule- for obvious reasons!) Full disclosure: we kids rarely made it past early afternoon, when we would sheepishly sneak a bowl of cheerios. (They NEVER tasted so good, by the way, even with the guilt of having failed to endure the whole day!) After all, we had been 'slowing' since the evening before, observing Kol Nidre, the service on the eve of this most holy day in the Jewish calendar.


Still, in spite of the hunger-(or maybe because of it)- I have fond memories of those days. Everyone dressed up and looked 'righteous,' attending VERY LONG synagogue services, led by Rabbis and Cantors clad in white robes, yarmulkes-(skull caps)- and prayer shawls. (They also wore white tennis shoes; either Keds or Spaulding or P.F. Flyers; there were no Nikes or Adidas. I'm really dating myself!)


When the day was over, and, as a family, we broke the fast, one couldn't help feel something significant had occurred, even if you weren't sure what it was. Best as we could figure, from what tradition told us, if we made it through Yom Kippur, we were, hopefully, 'good' for another year. G-d had 'searched us out' in the 'Days of Awe' beginning at Rosh HaShana. The 'gates' of His judgment were closed, and we were OK. (Phew!)


In reality, though you confessed many sins of omission and commission and asked G-d for forgiveness, you were never quite sure of having received it. The final 'shofar,'-(ram's horn)- sounded at the conclusion of Yom Kippur services, signaling the end of the High Holy Days. We were told that, because of our prayers of remorse and repentance, (and, of course our abstinence from food,) we had been granted 'atonement,' a covering of our sins for another year, at least. Well, thankfully, I've lived many years since then. As a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah of Israel, I now know that HE is the atonement for ALL my sins; past, present and future. More than 'covering' our transgressions, He has taken them away, 'as far as the east is from the west.'


This year, Yom Kippur occurs during the same week in which, four years ago, my 93 year old mother, Florence Goetz, passed away. I will be honoring her in my heart, lighting a 'yahrtzeit' (remembrance) candle in her memory. I will thank the Lord G-d of Israel for giving His Son as the atoning sacrifice for my sins, and I will pray that my Jewish people would come to believe in Him, as I have; I will thank Him for life, not just for another year, but for eternity; I will praise Him for giving me a beautiful family, faithful friends and a place in the community of believers. And- in the midst of a short season of 'slow fasting'- I will ask the Lord to keep me hungry; hungry, not just for an afternoon bowl of cereal, but for 'righteousness'; right believing, right behaving, right being; possible only through the GIFT of righteousness, offered freely through the sacrifice of the only man clothed in TRUE whiteness, (without, no doubt, the sneakers.) That Holy One is the Lord Yeshua!


In His Name, my family and I wish you all a blessed Yom Kippur.

'Stay hungry, my friends!'


Shalom and love,
Marty (for Jenny, Misha, Joshua and Caleb)