Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Happens When Yom Kippur Falls on Shabbat? Ethiopian Jews Have Created A New Custom.

I am sure you were not expecting me to send out a Yom Kippur custom. After all, isn’t its observance universal, with little room for unusual traditions? The answer is yes and no. Yes, there is a standard ceremonial pattern. No, not everything is the same when this holy of holy days falls on Shabbat. Yom Kippur is also known as Shabbat Hashabbatot – the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Because it is prohibited to fast on Shabbat, all other fast days in the Jewish calendar are postponed to another day if they fall on Shabbat. Not Yom Kippur. It stays put regardless if it falls on Shabbat – as it does this year. What to do? Ask our fellow Jews from Ethiopia. When they lived in the land of their birth, they strictly adhered to the “no fasting on Shabbat” decree, and so they did eat something. Now that they are living in Israel they have created a new twist, as reported in a recent article appearing in the New York Jewish Week. They recite the Shabbat Kiddush, but let a child taste the wine. By developing this new practice they honor the Shabbat without violating the practice of fasting.
You may want to pass this custom on to your class and use it as a segue for learning more about Ethiopian Jewry.
Have an easy fast…Tami

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