MANCHESTER — New Hampshire Jews today pause for the spiritual reflections of Yom Kippur pained by memories of the attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria during this holiest of holidays 40 years ago, and by the realization that political conflict in Egypt and Syria is again an imminent threat to the Jewish homeland.
Preparing to lead observances of the most solemn of Jewish holidays, Rabbi Levi Krinsky of the Manchester-based Chabad Lubavitch of New Hampshire said Friday that while very real earthly crises exist, Yom Kippur is a day for personal spiritual reflection.
“We are physical beings living in a material world but our roots are deeply rooted in unadulterated spirituality,” Krinsky said. “This is a day of atonement at which we are able to set aside all our daily routine and focus totally on the spirituality of God’s omnipresence.”Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar; a day of atonement and repentance in seeking God’s forgiveness for sin. From before sundown Friday and continuing until after sunset today. Jewish people abstain from eating. Prayer services and rites steeped in centuries of tradition are held during the night and day.
It is rare that Yom Kippur falls on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and Krinsky said that leads some to a deeper reverence.“I think it is an added measure of palpable spirituality that you can feel and touch, if only we take advantage of it,” Krinsky said. “When it comes on the Sabbath, there are 25 hours of total spiritual energy.”While Jews around the world abandon daily routine for sacrifices and observances of a holy day, in Israel, borders are sealed, public transportation is closed and the country’s airspace is restricted.
It is a modern-day routine which has become accepted reality in the 40 years since Egypt and Syria violated the serenity of the holy day with a sudden attack during the Yom Kippur observance on Oct. 6, 1973.
“They felt the Jewish people were vulnerable and off-guard ... the fact of the matter is that the enemies are always looking to get you when you are most vulnerable,” Krinsky said. “We pray so that we come to the day that we no longer have to do this, be security-minded, watching over our shoulder for any enemy to be attempting to hurt us.”Debate over whether resolution to the crisis over the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on its own people comes through diplomacy or military might will inevitably be remembered by those who pray today.
“Whatever Syria does, whether they give it up or fight on, eventually Israel is the scapegoat, so we pray, truly pray, that it is resolved peacefully,” Krinsky said.
While the conflict between nations remains inescapable, Krinsky sees spirituality of the day centered for most Jews on personal atonement, good deeds and preparation for the year ahead. “We hope they draw strength from this holy day and incorporate it into their daily life in a real tangible way,” he said.