WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- For about 20 years, the congregation of Temple Beth Abraham has fed Westchester's hungry in honor of Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is Judaism's holiest day of the year, when Jews believe they are closest to God. Yom Kippur is a time to reflect on one's actions during the past year.
"The things we've done well, and more importantly the things we haven't done well, and would like to change in the future," said Rabbi David K. Holtz. "When we leave, our hope is that our souls have been cleansed for another year."
Yom Kippur starts about 20 minutes from sundown on Friday, Oct. 3, and ends at nightfall on Saturday, Oct. 4.
Yom Kippur tradition includes spending time praying, fasting and abstaining from wearing leather shoes. According to Holtz, charity is a yearlong obligation for those who practice Judaism. However, Yom Kippur tradition calls on followers to commit additional acts of giving.
"The original idea behind it (the food drive) was to take the money would would have spent feeding our families for a 24-hour period and donate it to the food bank and people whose fast is not voluntary," explained Holtz.
Temple Beth Abraham is asking its community to donate food (rice, beans oatmeal, dry cereal and nonsugary items) to the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown. Food can be dropped off in the donation truck at the temple's entrance at 25 Leroy Ave. on Friday through Wednesday. Temple Beth Abraham is also collecting monetary donations for the Food Bank for Westchester. To arrange a monetary donation, call 914-631-1779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Temple Beth Abraham donates about 2,500 pounds of food each year.
"At Yom Kippur, one way to make up for the things you've done wrong is to balance that out with doing deeds of love and kindness, making a contribution, whether it be money, food, or actions of physically helping people," said Holtz.
Holtz told Daily Voice that the food drive has become an important and expected piece of Temple Beth Abraham's observation of Yom Kippur.
"I think the beauty of Yom Kippur is that God loves us and gives us the opportunity to make amends, and not be defined by the things we do wrong, but asks us to look honestly upon ourselves and do better next year," said Holtz. "To me that's not a Jewish thing, that's a human thing."
Holtz said he thinks the world would be a better place if people stopped thinking God was judging them all time and spent more time judging themselves and less time judging other people.
"It's easier to see fault in other people," Holtz told Daily Voice. "This holiday is to make us look inward rather than tsk-tsking at other people."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.