By Shira Khotim, NFTY-SW Editor
It’s been around three weeks since NFTY-SW left Fall Kallah, in Prescott, AZ. During Fall Kallah, Max Cohen, our Religious & Cultural Vice-President led the region in a program called,“Preparing for the High Holidays.” During Max’s program, NFTYites explored the meaning of Yom Kippur and why it is significant to each of us. NFTY-SW reflected on the past year and thought about what we did right and where we could do better. We ended Saturday night with a service for Selichot and started to think about atonement. Yom Kippur was this past week, and NFTY-ites were prompted to think about repentance and forgiveness. Our region has a lot to say about what Yom Kippur means to them and how Max’s program made an impact on them.
Max Palay, KATY’s President explained why Yom Kippur is important to him, “I like Yom Kippur because it’s a day specially made just to reflect on yourself. Once you set aside how hungry you are while you’re bored in services, you look back on your year. Everyone makes mistakes and I love the fact that Judaism has a day to ground yourself no matter what else is happening. It’s a day where you look back on what you didn’t necessarily like about yourself and can change it.” Yom Kippur is a special holiday to Max, and has a unique meaning for him. Max and the rest of NFTY were able to explore this concept throughout the programs at Fall Kallah.
Lindsay Schawelson, Beth Israel Temple Youth’s Programming Vice President has a similar view of Yom Kippur to Max Palay. Lindsay explains, “Yom Kippur is meaningful to me because I am able to reflect for an entire day on my year and apologize to those I’ve wronged . It really helps me look ahead into the new Jewish Year and think about how I can improve myself and my surroundings.” The programs at Fall allowed Lindsay to view Yom Kippur from a variety of different lenses and dive deeper into how she really connects with the holiday.
Crystil Wood, a group leader from the program and the Membership Vice-President of the youth group at Congregation Ner Tamid in Las Vegas explains, “My group focused on T’shuvah and it helped me open my eyes to those that I’ve hurt in the past year and to see that I needed to apologize and accept apologies of others that hurt me. Yom Kippur, to me, is a day to restart. It is a day that I can take to focus on the people I hurt and a day to focus on bettering myself for the next year.”
Emily Kaplan, Programming Vice-Presdient of Temple Beth Shalom in Sun City, AZ really enjoyed the preparing for Yom Kippur, “I thought the programs at Fall Kallah were really helpful in bringing us into the mindset of forgiveness and what it means to forgive not only yourself, but others as well. It was like a preview into what our mindsets should be like during Yom Kippur, simply contemplative. The programs allowed me to begin thinking about my past actions. We did so in the environment that we weren’t alone, we were with our friends, and nobody is a perfect being, so it was nice to feel like I wasn’t alone in this holiday of contemplation.”
Yom Kippur and the programs we participated in at Fall Kallah mean something slightly different to each person. Although we are all observing the same holiday, the holiday’s meaning can differ significantly from person to person. It is important to reflect on the past year and keep in mind what we can do differently this upcoming year.