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A Refreshing Yom Kippur

by: Rabbi Yisrael Baron
(Published September 2, 2013 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)

Every Yom Kippur eve, just before Kol Nidrei, I remind the congregation of a beautiful custom. It is called "the children's blessing." I then ask everyone to turn to their children who are at their side, or close their eyes as they visualize their children in their mind's eye. We then take a moment for each parent to give their children a blessing from their heart at this precious moment before Kol Nidrei.

On Yom Kippur Day during the Yizkor ceremony we also connect with our departed loved ones through the special prayers honoring their memory.

It is important to understand that Yom Kippur is not just an obligation to observe, rather an enriching experience. Many people regard Yom Kippur as a solemn day, where we spend the day in the Synagogue and refrain from eating. Though this is true on the face of it, the inner message of Yom Kippur is more exciting. On Yom Kippur we are given the opportunity to tap into the energizing strength of the soul through song, prayer and fasting.

On this one day of the year, we manage to peel back any physical differences among us, and reveal the precious soul which we all have within us. That is why Yom Kippur gives us a chance to strengthen relationships. At a soul level we are all the same, and there is little that separates us from each other. Most of all Yom Kippur is a day that centers us, as we turn off all distractions and concentrate on who we really are and what our purpose in life is.

As Yom Kippur concludes, though we may be tired from a day of prayer and fasting, we leave invigorated - as everyone runs home to break their fast with a smile on their face. We feel tired, but at the same time refreshed, because the passion of the core of our existence has been rekindled.

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