Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar and will be observed from the 29th – 30th September 2017. Many Jewish people will refrain from work, fast and/or attend Synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishri (The seventh month of the Jewish year, during which many important holidays occur.)
The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement”. It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is essentially your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgement, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.
No work can be performed during Yom Kippur and followers are obliged to refrain from eating and drinking (even water). It is a complete, 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.
Much of the holiday is spent in the Synagogue, in prayer. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar (an ancient musical horn made of ram’s horn).
There are two meals associated with Yom Kippur: the pre-fast meal and the break-fast meal. The pre-fast meal is known as seudah ha-mafaseket ( “meal of separation” or “concluding meal”). Some traditional recipe choices for the meal include: rice, kreplach (stuffed dumplings), chicken, or fish. Meals are usually prepared with minimum salt, as this could cause dehydration during the fast. It is important to drink plenty of water, of course. The break-fast meal usually consists of hi-carb dairy foods like sweet kugel (noodle pudding), bagels, quiches, soufflés, eggs and cheese.
The third ‘Birmingham Conversations’ took place recently on the theme of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ and explored the issue of how faith communities engage in all areas of public life.
The Conversations were attended by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Humanists, Muslims and Sikhs as well as people involved in local politics, business and education.
The group met once a month for six months which enabled friendships to grow and for trust to be built up so that difficult or controversial topics could be considered.
Under the heading of ‘Faith in the Public Sphere’ they discussed what it would mean for faith communities, and by extension all communities, to flourish in the public sphere. Can everyone flourish or does the flourishing of one community necessitate the diminishing or restricting of another?
They then went on to consider how what this flourishing might look like at work, in places of education, in political life, in the media and in the street during festivals or demonstrations.
A Policy Report of the findings was written by Dr Andrew Davies from the University of Birmingham which includes specific recommendations and can be downloaded here faith-in-the-public-sphere-policy-recommendations
A Summary of the conversations was produced which includes questions for discussion and is written with members of the public in mind to enable different groups to join in the conversation. A copy of the summary can be downloaded here. map-of-birmingham-conversationland
They invited two local artists, Jake Lever and Mandy Ross, to be artists in residence and reflect on what they heard during the conversations. As well as creatively facilitating conversations they produced artworks at the end as a response to the conversations.