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The idea behind refraining from eating is that the body is uncomfortable, but can still survive. By feeling pain in the body and soul, one is able to feel how others feel when they are in pain. In order to repent to God for the pain and other wrongdoings we have inflicted upon God and others one must pray, repent, and give to charity.
In the past Yom Kippur was my least favorite holiday, mostly because I love food, and I only really understood that I couldn't eat on Yom Kippur and so I decided I didn't like the holiday. As I get older, however, and understand more about the holiday, I realize how important it is.
Yom Kippur is a chance to bridge the gap between who we have been in the past year and who we want to be in the year ahead. It's a chance to make right all the wrongs of the past year, seek forgiveness, and wipe the slate clean and start fresh in newly focused and meaningful lives.
Yes, Yom Kippur is observed by Jews, but I believe the message of Yom Kippur is important for everybody. I doubt that very few of us can say that we are always the best version of ourselves. I am confident, however, that each and every one of us, despite our religious beliefs or backgrounds, has it in us to be the best version of ourselves, to do more to help others, be selfless, and make positive contributions to our communities and the world around us.
So to all of my Jewish and non-Jewish friends, here's to new life, new possibilities, and new opportunities in the year ahead.