#OccupyYomKippur – I’m Absolutely Speechless

Originally posted on Daily Kos

Just when I thought the #OccupyWallStreet movement could no longer surprise me with its grassroots goodness, something has emerged from tonight’s gathering in NYC that has me shaking with joy.

Yom Kippur Service Taking Place At Occupy Wall Street 2011-10-08 00-10-25
More than a minyan (try hundreds) gathered for an Occupy Yom Kippur service. Photo by Damon Dahlen.


Across from Zuccotti Park, hundreds of social-justice-oriented Jews of multiple stripes gathered for a Kol Nidre service – the service which liturgically begins Yom Kippur, my tribe’s Day of Atonement. As Jaweed Kaleem for The Huffington Post reports:

Several hundred people showed up in front of downtown New York’s Brown Brothers Harriman building for a candlelit, social justice-oriented Kol Nidre service Friday night. They included men and women in white prayer shawls, participants in street wear and non-Jewish onlookers. Leaders of the service prayed for the eradication of racism, classism and discrimination against gays and lesbians, among other causes. As with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, no microphones were used and readings and songs were echoed throughout the crowd as dozens of police officers watched. So far, no incidents have been reported. Several attendees said they planned to cross the street to Zuccotti Park to spend the night with Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, as observant Jews do not use cars or the subway on Yom Kippur.

One of the central prayers in the Kol Nidre service is the Al Cheit. It’s a long prayer in which participants read through a list of sins, striking their chests to acknowledge those things we have done both individually and communally. Below is a photo of a portion of the supplemental reading written specifically for and added to this service tonight at #occupyyomkippur (care of @aimeeweiss):

The supplemental readings for Al Cheyt #OccupyYomKippur on Twitpic 2011-10-08 00-17-26

By thinking about Jewish Values only on holy days.

By not defending Israel.

By not defending Palestine.

I am so moved, if it weren’t for the two children I must help wake up in the morning and dress for synagogue – not to mention the fasting – I would drive the seven hours to New York to experience this tomorrow.

For it will be going on tomorrow as well. And knowing that makes me feel like this:

Yom Kippur Service Taking Place At Occupy Wall Street 2011-10-08 00-11-22
Photo by Damon Dahlen

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

Author’s Note: Care of @aimeeweiss, there’s also video from tonight. Enjoy.


About David Harris-Gershon

David Harris-Gershon – a blogger for Tikkun magazine and a freelance writer on Israel, the Middle East and America’s role in the region – has recently published work in The Jerusalem Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, AlterNet, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Colorado Review and elsewhere. His memoir – What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife? – is forthcoming from Oneworld Publications (2013). He received his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and has worked extensively as an educator, teaching creative writing and Israeli History / Jewish Studies in university and high school classrooms. Follow David on Twitter @David_EHG

Posted on October 8, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a great demonstration of the meaning of Yom Kippur–hopefully Jews world-wide are
    similarly motivated…Aaron Allen…

  2. I agree, Aaron. It is a wonderful demonstration, this confluence of Occupy Wall Street and Yom Kippur.

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