This year, the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, begins in the evening of Tuesday, October 8 and ends in the evening of Wednesday, October 9. This holiest of Holy Days requires the most observant to abstain from all food and drink, work and play and devote themselves to prayer and introspection from sun-down to sun-down. Many Jews attend synagogue to communally and personally ask for forgiveness and to commit themselves to a better self in the coming Jewish year.

As this Yom Kippur approaches, I think of twenty-five hours of fasting, quiet reflection, introspection and prayer, uninterrupted by the demands of eating, and — to mix metaphors — I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. What a gift is this Day of Atonement, this Yom Kippur? How lucky I am to be able to — actually, to be commanded to — sit and think and breathe, surrounded by family and friends and community, all with the shared intention of repentance.

Before becoming a committed meditator, I viewed the day with dread, imagined the hunger gnawing at my stomach, exhaustion pulling at my eyes. Now, instead, I’m looking forward to focusing on my breath, on my gratitude and on my hopes and prayers for all of us “to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.”

G'mar Hatima Tova.

Guest post by studio BE's Director of Outreach, Paula Chaiken