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Restoring Relationships
As a Jew I believe that we are children of a loving Father who forgives our sins when we
return to him with a sincere heart. We can obtain forgiveness from the Creator by
repenting of what we have done wrong and vowing to begin a new life of virtue and
goodness. We do not need a priest or mediator to obtain forgiveness of sins. However,
before we can ask God’s pardon we must make peace with anyone we have hurt, and
be reconciled with them. We believe that sin is a weakness of humanity and not the work
of some evil power.
On the first day of the Jewish month of Tishre (which falls in September or October) we
celebrate the Jewish New Year. This is called Rosh Hashanah. This celebration marks
the beginning of ten days of penance during which we examine our lives, pray for
forgiveness and ask God’s blessing for the coming year. On the tenth day we celebrate
Yom Kippur which is the most solemn day in our year. We call this the “Day of
Atonement”. It is a day of fasting set aside to atone or make amends for the sins of the
past year, so that we may be brought closer to G-d.
During the ten days of repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur we are
all called upon to examine our actions and turn away from all evil actions. We are
supposed to spend more time than usual in the study of the Torah, the keeping of G-d’s
laws and in acts of charity.
Since Yom Kippur is the day to ask forgiveness for promises broken to G-d, the day
before is reserved for asking forgiveness for broken promises between people, as G-d
cannot forgive broken promises between people.
We believe that G-d looks into our hearts and judges us as we begin the New Year; this
judgement is recorded in the Book of Life. On Yom Kippur, the judgement entered in
these books is closed and sealed. This day is, essentially, our last chance to change the
judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends. Those that have repented
for their sins are granted a good and happy New Year.
The Feast of Yom Kippur reflects our understanding of the ways that relationships
between people and between people and G-d can be restored.
1. What does Daniel believe about sin and forgiveness?
2. What does Rosh Hashanah mark the beginning of?
3. What is Daniel expected to do during the ten days of penance?
4. Why does Daniel have to be reconciled with other people?
5. What is so important about Yom Kippur?
6. Compare and contrast Daniel’s experience with the beliefs and practices
of another tradition.