A Day of Reflection

Students get a day off on October 5th for Yom Kippur


Photo: Teddy Bergstrom

White Converse are commonly worn during Yom Kippur.

The Sabbath of Sabbaths. The Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur.

University Prep students know that they get a day off of school on October 5th, but to Jewish community members it is so much more than that.

“It’s probably the most important holiday in the Jewish tradition,” Jewish History teacher Gus Feliu said. “‘Holiday’ has to be used carefully there because we usually associate the word ‘holiday’ with a pleasant experience, and it’s not that Yom Kippur can’t be deeply spiritual, it’s just often wrapped up in seeking forgiveness for your sins.”

Yom Kippur is traditionally about seeking for pardon for ones mistakes and wrong doings, but can also be about self development.

“It has evolved over time to make you spend time looking inward and it’s designed that way,” Feliu said.

During Yom Kippur, there are some customs that are traditionally practiced throughout the day.

“It’s a fast day, that’s important to know. It’s a 25 hour fast, one of the longer types of fasts you can have in Judaism,” Feliu said. “Typically, it’s common to wish someone an easy fast, and there are more and more people wishing others a meaningful fast.”

“The idea is that humans can spend time reflecting.

— History Teacher Gus Feliu

Judaism has many complex aspects and intricate traditions.

“I wish people knew how beautiful it is,” Feliu said. “Judaism is a very beautiful, very thoughtful tradition that encourages a lot of deep introspection and engagement with yourself, engagement with others, and engagement with God.”

Senior Max Rubenstein is very involved in Jewish organizations outside of UPrep, one of which is the B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO).

“BBYO is the largest teen led Jewish movement in the world. It encompasses over 50 countries, there’s 750 chapters around the world,” Rubenstein said. “I’m currently serving asregional president. Basically what I do is manage the regional operations andI have a regional board. There’s a bunch of smaller chapter boards, but the overall thing I’ve gotten out of that is connections with other Jewish teens.”

The two days off that students get for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah in the first semester are often overlooked.

“People are getting these two days off every year in the beginning of the year, I think it’s important to, at some point, ask why and where did this come from?” Rubenstein said. “I know obviously every Jewish person’s experience is going to be different with these holidays, but asking your friends what that means to them goes a long way.”