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Yom Kippur traditionally ends with one long, loud blast of the shofar, a ram's horn with a primal sound.
If you have a shofar, blow it now!
If not, make some noise some other way to mark the end of this holy day. Belt out a song together or try a primal scream. Do what you need to do to feel a sense of release and readiness to embark on the journey of a new year.
It's said that Yom Kippur brings affliction to the comfortable and comfort to the afflicted. After a long night and day of fasting, we finally have arrived at the magic moment of breaking bread to end the fast and start the feast. Before all that, take a brief moment for gratitude for the meal we are about to consume.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הַמּֽוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, hamotzi lekhem min ha-aretz.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.
Sure, food may be the first thing on everyone's mind at a Yom Kippur Break Fast. And, we can still make this night feel special and bigger than just the bagels. Once your guests have had a chance to eat, invite everyone to join in these activities designed to help us cross the threshold from this holiest of holy days into the rest of the year.
Table Topics: The prayers at the end of Yom Kippur focus on gates that are closing as the sun sets. Start a discussion about the gates or pathways we encounter. Which gates do we want to open in this new year? Which gates can we close? How does it feel to open or close these?
Raise a Glass: Whether it's orange juice, wine or another favorite beverage, raise your glass and make a toast! You can dedicate your toast to the people gathered around the table, to our ancestors, to the people who made the break fast food or the host, to a sweet new year, the choice is yours. L'chaim!
Sharing Intentions: Welcome each person to share a wish or intention for the year that's just begun.
Breathwork: Invite everyone around the table to take a deep breath together. Really focus on the exhale. Dramatic sighs welcome. We made it!
Many of my friends who also live in San Francisco don't have family nearby to spend Yom Kippur with. Since Yom Kippur is not a public holiday, not everyone flies home to be with family. Some fast, some don't. Some attend services, some go to work.
Regardless of how you do Yom Kippur, it's nice to mark the day somehow with people you love. Two years ago when I realized that many of my Jewish friends and I had nowhere to go, I decided to host my first break fast dinner at our house.
There are many reasons to keep this meal no-fuss and no cook: Cooking while fasting is not much fun, it's often on a weeknight so there is little time, and in some ways, no-fuss, no-cook dishes are part of the tradition! Here's what's usually on my table:
I like to break my fast with a nourishing cup of bone broth. While it's become trendy in recent years, many cultures around the world have enjoyed bone broth since ancient times. In Greece, it's avgolemono, in Japan it's tonkotsu (as in tonkotsu ramen). In the Middle East, chicken bone broth was sometimes prescribed as medication. It makes sense then that, generations later, chicken soup is sometimes called “Jewish penicillin.”
One year, I started serving bone broth as a sort of appetizer. Unlike fresh fruit juices, it doesn't cause an insulin spike and is soothing and nourishing to the digestive system. Since it would be tortuous to be around the aroma of a bone broth while fasting, I purchase my 100% grass fed beef bone broth frozen from my local health foods market. I let it defrost on the counter while I'm at services, then heat it up right when I get home. There's nothing quite like the warm, nourishing scent of broth as the first hungry guests walk in the door! To serve 10 guests, I purchase two quarts.
Here's what else is on the menu:
HUMMUS, AUTUMN STYLE
1/2 seeded, sliced and roasted delicata squash (can be made up to two days ahead and stored in fridge)
1/4 cup roasted and chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons crumbled feta or goat cheese
16 ounce container good-quality hummus
handful of freshly chopped chives
olive oil for drizzling
sea salt for sprinkling
Spread hummus in a circular motion onto a large serving dish. Sprinkle delicata squash, cheese, walnuts, then chives onto hummus. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt to finish. Serve with pita or your favorite crackers.
CALIFORNIA-STYLE WHITEFISH SALAD
1/2 pound smoked whitefish (I used butterfish, which I get at an Eastern European market near my house)
2 ripe avoados, peeled, pitted, and cubed
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sprinkling of freshly chopped chives
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Calling this a recipe seems unfair, it's THAT easy! Chop whitefish into 1/2 inch squares. Place in a medium-sized mixing bowl with cubed avocados. Squeeze lemon juice over, crack some fresh pepper over it and mix. Place in serving bowl with a sprinkling of chives. It's not the most beautiful dish in the world, but it's delicious. I started serving this since some of my friends are lactose-intolerant and I wanted to make them a whitefish salad they could eat! Serve with toasted bagels.
HOMEMADE SALMON SCHMEAR
8 ounce package salmon lox, chopped into small pieces
Two 8 ounce packages of whipped cream cheese (the whipped part is important)
1 small shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
In a large mixing bowl, blend chopped lox with cream cheese, shallot, capers, and half of the dill. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with dill and serve with toasted bagels.
Purchase one 24 ounce jar of dill pickles. Place them on a serving dish and sprinkle with some dill.
Because, of course :)
I've found that Yom Kippur works best served buffet-style for me. As with other gatherings, I like to prepare the table and foods as much as possible in advance. That way, I'm not having to expend too much energy while fasting!
Wishing you an easy fast and G'Mar Tov!
Though it isn't traditional to end our Yom Kippur Break Fast meal by reciting a shehechiyanu blessing, it may feel appropriate upon reaching this moment of joy and celebration after coming through a difficult time. It's a way of saying, "we made it!" as we cross the threshold into the new year.
בָּרוּך אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וקְִיְמָּנוּ והְִגִיּעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶה
Barukh ata adonai elohenu melekh ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day.