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Introduction
Source : Original

This is adapted from an original post that I wrote in 2010.

The 10 Days of Repentance represent the window of time in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, during which time we are meant to repent on the sins of the past year. I’ve always found it tough to focus on this and properly bring it down to earth, so I developed this writing exercise to help me through it. It can work for anyone, irrespective of faith. Read on…

Imagine if you had to spend 10 days in a room confronted with all of your sins/mistakes/wrongdoings of the past year:

1. What would that room look like? How big would it be?

2. Who or what would be in this room? Would there mostly be people in that room? Actions? Thoughts? Decisions? Ideas?

3. What what you say to them/what would they say to you?

4. What would it feel like to spend 10 days in there? Could you handle it?

5. What would you do with the time that you had in there? What would you address first, last?

At the end of those 10 days, whatever you do, it’s time for you to leave that room and close the door for the next year. But don’t close it all the way. Leave it just a little bit ajar. You may have done all you can, but accept the fact that come next year, you might re-enter that room and be confronted with some of the same things. And Yom Kippur comes along, you can be the one closing the gates, writing the book. You don’t have to let God make all of the decisions, since at the end of the day, so much of it is completely in your own hands.

Happy new year, everybody!

Introduction
Source : Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield, Pardes

Fasting on Yom Kippur is not as obvious as one might think. Nowhere does the Torah explicitly command it. Instead, the verses teach us to “afflict ourselves” without defining the nature of this “affliction.”

We do know that Yom Kippur is about atonement and forgiveness. So how does “afflicting” ourselves through fasting relate to teshuva ? Many assume that fasting is a form of self-punishment, a way of balancing the scales for over-indulgence or rule-breaking. The pietists of medieval Ashkenaz called this teshuvat hamishkal, literally repentance of balance. The pleasure brought by sin must be accounted for and balanced by physical discomfort. But this does not connect fasting to the personal growth and psychological transformation.

In his commentary on Leviticus, the Abravanel (1437-1508, Portugal) connects fasting to our capacity to be like angels. When we abstain from food and water we demonstrate our spiritual identities. As another medieval commentator noted, when we fast our bodies are afflicted, but our souls rejoice. I find the sharp dualism hard to connect with. I do not conceive of myself as a good, pure soul in constant conflict with and chained to a corrupt, sinning body. I find an integrated identity more relevant.

The Talmud alludes to another approach that I find to be the most helpful. In the section dealing with fasting, the rabbis note that Yom Kippur is referred to as a shabbaton, a day of rest. From this perspective, when we abstain from eating and drinking, we are actually “resting” or “pausing” from these activities. The discomfort we feel on Yom Kippur is not a direct result of the absence of physical pleasure but rather, from the psychic and spiritual pain brought on by sin.

When we act in ways that betray our inner goodness and contradict the essence of who we are as beings in relationship with God and each other, our souls are in pain. While this pain is always present, many of us ignore it, cover it up, or distract ourselves with physical pleasure.

On Yom Kippur we “rest” from these distractions and allow the “affliction” in our hearts (from pain caused, opportunities missed, and alienation from our best selves) to be fully experienced and felt. This type of affliction can then push us towards growth, forgiveness and transformation!

Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield teaches Talmud, Halakha and Jewish Thought.

From "The Pardes Companion to Yom Kippur": http://elmad.pardes.org/2016/09/the-pardes-companion-to-yom-kippur/ 

Introduction

The Day of Atonement is the most holy day of the Jewish year and it is full of spiritual opportunity if you open yourself up to its customs, prayers and melodies. This short video is a basic primer on what Yom Kippur is, for everyone. It explains what the holiday is about, where it comes from, what to expect at a service and how to break the fast! A great intro for Jews and non-Jews alike - share with your curious coworker or family member.

Introduction
Source : http://reformjudaism.org/practice/prayers-blessings/meditation-yom-kippur-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.

Introduction

Kol Nidrei, sung by Cantor Angela Buchdahl

Introduction
Source : JMC Brooklyn

The Yamim Noraim (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) are here. We’re tasked with reflecting on our lives and practicing teshuvah (returning). Through teshuvah we examine our actions over the past year, seek forgiveness from ourselves, others, and the Divine and dedicate ourselves to do better next year. These sacred days provide an opportunity to ask ourselves the hardest questions and explore all the nooks and crannies of our thoughts, words, and actions over the past year. What’s beautiful about this process is we’re given the awesome opportunity to meet ourselves exactly where we are and practice being accountable. Teshuvah is about living a reflective life and taking responsibility for how we treat ourselves and interact with our family, friends, loved ones, colleagues, and even strangers.

Practice Instructions: Let’s invite our full selves to this practice. Right now in the present, look back over your past year’s journey, while visioning out the potential in the year to come. Before working with the three simple steps below close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Bring your awareness to this moment in time, check in with your breath and your body. Feel the seat beneath you. Now return to your breath. Notice how you fill with breath and then how this same breath is released back to the world. As thoughts arise, notice if and where they reside in your body. Notice where you feel tension, and observe your reactions and responses. Use the questions below to guide your teshuvah practice. Spend time with each question and invite yourself to write your most honest answers. This is your practice, your life, and your opportunity to bring your entire self to the process. Whenever your mind inevitably wanders or wavers (which is what minds do), bring yourself back to this work and this paper in your hands. See the holiness in the task at hand, your role in creating the life you want to live and the capacity that you hold at every moment. With every breath, you can use the practice of teshuvah to return, reflect, forgive, and move forward.

1. Reflect
Over the past year, did I fully live my values? Did I treat other people how I would want to be treated? What do I most regret? What am I most proud of?

2. Seek Forgiveness
From whom must I ask forgiveness? To whom must I offer my forgiveness (regardless of outcome)?

3. Letting Go & Moving Forward
How can I release myself from any residue of the past year? What do I want to practice, seek, or commit myself to this year?

May we all be blessed with a sweet & meaningful New Year.

Prayers for Forgiveness
by HIAS
Source : HIAS

Over the course of our Yom Kippur prayers, we recite the Al Chet over and over again.

V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu. “For the ways in which we have fallen short, oh God, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement,” we say. We take collective responsibility for our communal shortcomings, even for the ways in which we may not have failed individually. We acknowledge both our conscious and unconscious failings.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha b’imutz ha’lev v’al chet shechatanu l’fanecha bi’v’li da’at. “For the sin of commission and for the sin of omission,” we say. But it is not just in our relationship with God that we have missed the mark. We have also wronged our fellow human beings, those who sit next to us and those we have never met but whose cries for help we failed to answer. At this time, we take a moment to reflect on how we fell short in our struggle to confront and stem the tide of the worst refugee crisis in history. We acknowledge both the actions we could have taken but did not and those we never knew to take in the first place.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha – for the sin we commit when we fail to recognize the enormity and pervasiveness of the global refugee crisis.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we close our eyes to the horrifying images of children clinging to the sides of boats unfit for sea travel, images of terrified parents passing their babies through barbed wire fences.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we are unwilling to give tzedakah to our full capacity to ensure that refugees have safe housing, medical care, and food to eat.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we remain silent with our voices and our votes instead of calling on the United States to be a world leader in responding to this crisis.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we allow fear to give way to xenophobia.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we assume that someone else will help.

Al chet shechatanu lifanecha when we absolve ourselves of the burden of tempering the decree faced by the 65 million refugees and displaced people around the world.

May our teshuvah, our tzedakah, and our tefilah enable us to do more in the year to come for those so desperately in need of our protection.

V’al kulam, Elo’ah s’lichot, s’lach lanu, m’chal lanu, kaper-lanu. For all these failings and more, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement. 

Download the PDF here: http://www.hias.org/sites/default/files/final_designed_high_holiday_liturgical_reading_2016-5777.pdf

Prayers for Forgiveness
Source : Alison Laichter, from "Time To Reflect: A High Holidays-Inspired Workbook"

The traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, is composed of two parts, the Ashamnu and the Al Chet, that we read aloud on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Ashamnu (translated as “we have trespassed” or “we are guilty”) is an abbreviated confession, an alphabetic acrostic, and written in first person plural. We recite this confessional in the plural to represent our shared responsibility and culpability in all of our lives and missteps. We also share this confessional as a reminder that forgiveness is also shared.

Use the modern interpretation of the Ashamnu below using the English alphabet and add in your missteps for each letter of the alphabet:

We have behaved arrogantly,

We have betrayed ourselves and our families,

We have acted out of contempt,

We have been dishonest,

We have erred out of ignorance,

We have forgotten who we are,

We have gossiped,

We have been hypocritical,

We have been insensitive,

We have justified bad decisions,

We have killed our impulse to do good,

We have looked the other way,

We have been mean,

We have been neglectful,

We have acted out of fear instead of love,

We have pushed too much,

We have been quiet when we should have spoken up,

We have been rageful,

We have stolen, 

We have tried to teach when we should have tried to learn,

We have been untrue,

We have behaved violently,

We have withheld that which could have been given freely,

We have held others to unrealistic expectations,

We have yielded instead of moving forward,

We have zoomed too narrowly into challenges, 

Prayers for Forgiveness
Source : Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman: https://romneyassociates.com/about.html#imani-chapman

Unetaneh Tokef for Black Lives by Imani Romney-Rosa Chapman


Each day we hazard our Black lives in the Court of the White World
We know our worth
Yet the white world is judge-self-appointed

We pass before you to be counted
12.5 million bodies stolen
1.8 million mercifully avoided your shores
Stolen shores, stolen land
10.7 million arrived unsafely
… times 401 years
… times infinite human indignities
… times ⅗ of a human being
We now number 47.8 million

In the morning it is written and by curfew it is sealed

Who shall die while jogging (#AmaudArbery)
Who shall die while relaxing in the comfort of their home (#BothamJean #AtatianaJefferson)

Who shall die while seeking help after a car crash (#JonathanFerrell #RenishaMcBride)
Who shall die while holding a cellphone (#StephonClark)

Who shall die while decorating for a party (#ClaudeReese)
Who shall die while leaving a party (#JordanEdwards #SeanBell)

Who shall die while enjoying music (#JordanDavis)
Who shall die while selling music … trying to make a way outta no way (#AltonSterling)

Who shall die while sleeping (#AiyanaJones)
Who shall die while worshipping the Lord (#Charleston9)

Who shall die for a traffic violation (#SandraBland)
Who shall die while coming from the store (#MikeBrown and #TrayvonMartin)

Who shall die while playing cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
Who shall die while lawfully carrying a weapon (#PhilandoCastile, #FreddieGray)

Who shall die while on the shoulder of the road with car problems (#CoreyJones #TerrenceCrutcher)
Who shall die in the first hours of the new year (#OscarGrant)

Who shall die while shopping at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
Who shall die while cashing a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)

Who shall die while reading a book in their own car (#KeithScott)
Who shall die while taking a walk with their stepfather (#CliffordGlover)

Who shall die while reaching for their wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
Who shall die while running away (#WalterScott)

Who shall die while asking a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
Who shall die while begging for their life, their breath (#EricGarner #GeorgeFloyd)

Who shall die by the effects of supremacy, greed, and apathy
… who by beast, indeed

“But repentance, prayer and charity temper judgment’s severe decree”
“But repentance, prayer and charity avert judgment’s severe decree?”
But turning, connection and giving these return us to our Gd?
Whose repentance? Whose prayer? Whose charity?
Temper, please temper
Temper already! Temper …

For sins against God, the Day of Atonement brings forgiveness; for sins against one’s fellowman, the Day of Atonement brings no forgiveness till he has become reconciled with the fellowman he wronged. (Mishnah Yoma 8:9)
“The Day of Atonement brings no forgiveness
till he has become reconciled with the fellowman he wronged.”
When will you atone? How will you atone?


For you, like us, will be judged.
You, like us, will return to dust.

Prayers for Forgiveness
by SIJCC
Source : East Side Jews / SIJCC
Prayers for Forgiveness

SH’MA KOLEINU

Hear our voice, Adonai, our God, be kind, sympathize with us.
Willingly and lovingly, accept our prayer.

Turn us toward You, Adonai, and we will return to You;
Make our days seem fresh, as they once were.

Do not cast us away from You;
Do not take Your holy presence from us.

Do not cast us away as we grow old;
Do not desert us as our life ends.

Do not abandon us, Adonai, our God,
Do not distance yourself from us.

Give us hope; Be our help and comfort. Hear our words, Adonai, and consider our innermost thoughts.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, Adonai, my rock and redeemer.

Prayers for Forgiveness
Source : The YouTube Rabbi

Open the gates of justice for me,
I will enter them and thank God.
This is the gate of God,
Just people may enter it.

Tune by: Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Words from: Psalm 118:19

Prayers of Remembrance
Source : Alden Solovy: http://tobendlight.com/

Here’s a meditation to be recited after the Yom Kippur confessional prayer, written to reinforce the core message of repentence and return. It was originally posted as a “Meditation after the Yom Kippur Vidui.” A friend pointed out that with a broader name for the prayer it can be used on Selichot, as well as throughout the month of Elul as preparation for the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim.
 

Meditation on the Vidui
For the sins I’ve committed against myself,
And for the sins I’ve committed against others,
I offer a new heart.

For the sins I’ve committed against my family,
And for the sins I’ve committed against my friends,
I offer new understanding.

For the sins I’ve committed against children,
And for the sins I’ve committed against adults,
I offer new restraint.

For the sins I’ve committed against neighbors,
And for the sins I’ve committed against strangers,
I offer new insight.

For the sins I’ve committed against the powerful,
And for the sins I’ve committed against the weak,
I offer new wisdom.

For the sins I’ve committed against nations,
And for the sins I’ve committed against peoples,
I offer a new voice.

G-d of generations,
Source of forgiveness and grace,
For the sins that I remember,
And for the sins that I’ve forgotten,
I offer myself, in humble service,
To You, Your Word and Your Holy Name.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Prayers of Remembrance
Source : Alden Solovy: http://tobendlight.com/

Here’s a meditation to be recited after the Yom Kippur confessional prayer. It can also be used during the Hebrew month of Elul as preparation for the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim. It is the companion piece to “Meditation Before the Yom Kippur Vidui.” 
 

Meditation After the Yom Kippur Vidui
For the sins I’ve committed against myself,
And for the sins I’ve committed against others,
I offer a new heart.

For the sins I’ve committed against my family,
And for the sins I’ve committed against my friends,
I offer new understanding.

For the sins I’ve committed against children,
And for the sins I’ve committed against adults,
I offer new restraint.

For the sins I’ve committed against men,
And for the sins I’ve committed against women,
I offer new vision.

For the sins I’ve committed against neighbors,
And for the sins I’ve committed against strangers,
I offer new insight.

For the sins I’ve committed against the powerful,
And for the sins I’ve committed against the weak,
I offer new wisdom.

For the sins I’ve committed against nations,
And for the sins I’ve committed against peoples,
I offer a new voice.

G-d of generations,
Source of forgiveness and grace,
For the sins that I remember,
And for the sins that I’ve forgotten,
I offer myself, in humble service,
To You, Your Word and Your Holy Name.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Prayers of Remembrance
by Bayit
Source : Beside Still Waters https://yourbayit.org/beside-still-waters/

Secular-Friendly Mourners' Kaddish Translation by Rabbi David Cooper

There is an eternal essence that persists in time and space —
and this is our prayer to make it part of our awareness 
by affirming its persistence and pledging ourselves 
to act to advance the promise it holds of a better world; 
may it be soon and in our days. Amen.

Let the great essence be blessed through all our actions!

Whether it be blessed or praised or honored or exalted, 
we affirm that it is far beyond any expression which we use to describe it — 
prayer or song, prose or poem — and we say: Amen

We express our hopes for peace and for life upon us and upon all people. Amen.

May the harmony we experience as we gaze toward heaven 
be reflected in a harmony between all who dwell on the planet: 
Israelite, Ishmaelite, and all creatures upon this holy earth, and we say: Amen.

From: Beside Still Waters, available for download and purchase.  

Prayers of Remembrance
Source : produced with Custom & Craft
Prayers of Remembrance
Source : Cantor Lizzie Weiss, Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

Cantor Lizzie Weiss, Rabbi Jonathan Aaron and the Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills High Holy Day Choir sing a unique new arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire with the traditional B'rosh Hashanah refrain. 

Prayers for Healing & Peace
Source : Dane Kuttler: https://www.danepoetry.com/

And G!d says: "And you shall make sure that every time you list the litany of your ugly, and your rotten and your wicked, you end the litany with a prescription for how to move on from it - through reflection, reparation and repair - so that you do not get stuck in the ugly, which is mighty and sticky and will close your ears to the shofar and keep you asleep and in despair.”
 

And G!D says: "Rosh Hashanah has another name: Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance. And Yom Kippur is called the Day of Judgement. But on Yom Kippur, we cast aside all things that allow us to forget the horrors of the world. All our escape routes. All our distractions. We wake today to face the horrors head-on, so if you want to call Yom Kippur the Day of Staying Woke, that works, too."


And G!d says: “And on this day, you will not be able to turn to another for comfort or escape, but instead must hold yourself. You will surprise yourself with how much enough you are.”


And G!d says: "And lo, let us go. Go deep. Go in. You have done what you can. And now is the time to face yourself. Go with courage, for you are doing the work of the righteous. Go with comfort, for you have not given up. Go with trembling, for though you are small, you are an indispensable part of the greatness.  You are necessary. You are essential. You are here." 


And G!d says: "And on Yom Kippur, you shall pull away from the pleasures of music, food, drink, but most of all - touch. On this day, you may not lose yourself in another, must withdraw from the dizzying drama of the community, to be alone with yourself - and this is holy work. It is not selfishness. Ultimately, it will lead you out of loneliness."


And G!d says: "Why you remind yourself that your origin is dust, and your end is dust, and humans are but a flock of vanishing dreams: you can't do this work from high up. The work is to be done from your most vulnerable place ~ and what faster way to get vulnerable than go deep into mortality? Shine your lantern on the rotten, the ugly, the stinking guts of yourself, reeking with shame and bile. Bring it to the light. Then get to work."


And G!d says: "And when you have wrung yourself out, and it is the middle of the afternoon, and you are together wailing, take a break. Go outside and smell the garden herbs, go to the couch and rest. Do not do Torah Yoga, for that is an abomination and appropriative as all get-out. But stretch your beaten, hungry body, and give it what care you are permitted on Yom Kippur. To find self-kindness in the midst of atonement - that is the holiest part of the day."


And G!d says: "And when you face the ugly, you will do so with your fist upon your chest, beating at the place where your heart hides, in the hope that you will crack yourself open and let the light in."


And G!d says: "That when you cannot face the ugly because it is too hard and you hurt too much, that's why we have a book full of prayers, idiot. To give yourself a scaffolding through the process of acknowledgment and repentance. So open it and find something that resonates, because otherwise you might get stuck feeling guilty instead of moving towards healing. Keep moving, even when you're not doing it perfectly. Perfection is the enemy of t'shuvah"

 

From Dane Kuttler's The G!d Wrestlers,  The Social Justice Warrior's Guide to the High Holy Days, Sept. 2015

Prayers for Healing & Peace
Source : JQ International

We asked JQYers to share, in six words, what will be on their minds this Yom Kippur. These are some of our thoughts and prayers.

Prayers for Healing & Peace
Source : by Tesily Diehl for Custom & Craft

From "Time to Reflect: A High Holidays-Inspired Workbook (for Grown-Ups) 

http://www.customandcraft.org/content/high-holidays-inspired-workbook

Commentary

Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.”

Commentary
Source : 92nd St Y

To help people understand and prepare for Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement - and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein unpacks the central prayer of the holiday, Kol Nidre, which is chanted in synagogues on the eve of Yom Kippur and traditionally draws huge crowds, despite the obscure meaning of the text. He offers some ideas about why this ancient Aramaic prayer still has such a hold on so many people.

Commentary
Source : Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills
The Book of Jonah is traditionally read on Yom Kippur. To retell the story, our Young Professionals team created "Tipsy Torah", a Jewish parody of Drunk History. 'Like' Tipsy Torah on Facebook - www.facebook.com/tipsytorah
Commentary