Today is Yom Kippur, the last day of the Jewish High Holy Days. Yom Kippur began last night at sunset when Jews throughout the world joined together in twenty-five hours of fasting and prayer. Throughout these High Holy Days, Jews reflect on the ways they have fallen short of the mark, the ways they have distanced themselves from God and their neighbor.
Each year at this time, I remember the chapel we always held at St. Paul's school sometime during the High Holy Days. That chapel was called the Taschlich chapel and it was always led by 7th graders, many of whom would have a bar or bat mitzvah sometime during their 7th grade year. Taschlich means "to cast", and that is just what is done on Taschlich--crumbs of bread representing sins and regrets are cast into the water. Each year, shortly after school began, 400 kids, their teachers and some parents, too, walked silently from the church to the lake across the street. When they reached the shore of the lake, the kids and adults took a small piece of bread, found a place by the edge of the water, stood silently for a moment and then cast their bread into the water. They then turned--this is the part that still stuns me--and walked quietly back to school. I don't know what they were thinking. I do know how that action of casting bread on the water moved me.
But today is not the beginning of the High Holy Days. Today is not Taschlich.Today is Yom Kippur, a day when our brothers and sisters reflect somberly on that which separates them from God and their neighbor. The day ends with a series of recitations about the nature of God and then a hopeful prayer, "Next year may we be in Jerusalem." My prayer today is the prayer Jesus prayed on a different Jewish feast day. "May we all be one."