The Shalom Center is sponsoring a unique and unprecedented observance of Yom Kippur, beginning Tuesday evening, September 22, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, immediately before Pope Francis’s unprecedented address on the climate crisis to a joint session of the US Congress. Yom Kippur is the day of both Atonement and At-Onement. At this moment in history we humans are in need of atonement for the ways in which we have desecrated the Earth; this desecration is the result of our lack of at-Onement with the Earth -– our separation from all life. The author of the report that follows and point person for this observance is Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, a member of The Shalom Center’s Board and a member of the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. For more details and unfolding information, please write him at <email@example.com>. See background information below.
This year Yom Kippur occurs immediately prior to Pope Francis’s unprecedented address to a joint session of the US Congress. There are already a number of faith-based events being planned in Washington, D.C. for that week. Some of us in the Jewish community were concerned that because of the High Holidays we would not be able to participate. We realized that Yom Kippur was in fact a very appropriate way to support Pope Francis’s message to the United States and the world.
We are planning a Yom Kippur service, beginning with (including) Kol Nidre, as the sun sets on Tuesday evening, September, 22, that will focus on the theme of our need to atone for the human desecration of the Earth. We will follow the basic prayer rubric of the day. We will invite other faith traditions to participate during the day, asking them to bring their prayers of atonement. We will move towards prayers and feelings of at-onement with all that is.
This invitation to other people of faith is an acknowledgement that our worldview is not particular to Judaism, or to Catholicism, or to any one tradition – and that it is critical that we now act together entering into shared atonement for what has occurred and prayer for the future of all life.
During Yom Kippur Day we propose a more contemplative service. While drawing upon the Shacharit and Musaf liturgy, including the Torah Service and Reading, we intend to focus our worship experience more on Chanting, and Reflective Spiritual Exercises.,
On Wednesday evening, as Yom Kippur is ending, there will be a multi-faith vigil called for 7:30 PM to usher in the Pope’s address the next day. After the traditional afternoon break in Yom Kippur services we will reconvene and continue our liturgy. At 7:30 we will welcome others and transition into a multi-faith service. We will conclude the Yom Kippur liturgy, as we traditionally do, when three stars appear in the sky – a fitting affirmation that our lives are interconnected with the movement of the universe. We will be joined in breaking our fast by people of faith who have been fasting for as long as ten days near the White House calling attention to the need to act for the sake of all life.