Yom Kippur is one of, if not the, most important holiday observed by Jewish people every year.
Meaning “Day of Atonement,” Yom Kippur gives celebrants the chance to “afflict the soul” (as commanded in Leviticus 16:29-30), offer repentance, and make amends. Because of the solemnity of the occasion, Yom Kippur is a Sabbath upon which no work may be performed. It also includes a near-26-hour fast which commences on the eve of the holiday and ends the following night. But as with many fasts, there’s plenty of eating and drinking to be done prior to its start and after its conclusion. Let’s take a closer look at the important role food plays in Yom Kippur.
The 411 on the Pre-Fast Feasts
Just because the actual holiday of Yom Kippur is largely spent fasting doesn’t mean food isn’t a major part of the holiday. It is — both on the day before the fast begins as well as at its conclusion at nightfall. In fact, most Jews eat not one, not two, but three festive meals as part of Yom Kippur.
Foodies, in particular, have plenty to look forward to on the day before Yom Kippur, which is a yom tov, or festive day. Why? Because it’s actually a mitzvah to eat well. In fact, the Talmud declares that “Whoever eats and drinks on the 9th [of Tishrei], it is regarded as if he had fasted on both the 9th and the 10th.”
Jews typically eat two meals on the day before Yom Kippur — a morning or afternoon feast as well as the “separation meal” which signifies the onset of Yom Kippur. And while Yom Kippur is indeed a solemn holiday, these meals are actually celebratory in nature due to the Jewish peoples’ belief in a merciful God who will abundantly provide for his people in the coming year.
What foods are eaten during the pre-fast feasts? While there’s no customary meal, hot, substantive meals are popular, such as soup, bread, and roast chicken. One staple around most Jewish tables on the day before Yom Kippur? Kreplach — perfect served in soup or as a side dish. It is also customary for celebrants to eat “lekach,” a sweet cake (often challah dipped in honey) which symbolizes sweetness for the year ahead.
The 411 on the Post-Fast Feast
While Jews spend the entire next day fasting, they also have a large meal to look forward to the next day when Yom Kippur concludes. This is a time to indulge, with typical Yom Kippur spreads including everything from bagels with lox and whitefish to blintzes, strata, kugel, and plenty of other Jewish favorites.
All of which presents a unique dilemma for hosts: How to provide an extraordinary break-fast meal without compromising the fast itself by preparing and cooking food? Factor in a growing trend highlighted by the New York Times about the increased popularity of break-fast parties among families and friends, and the planning grows even more monumental for most.
In response, more and more people are turning to one surprisingly simple answer: Gourmet mail order food. This scrumptious solution allows hosts to nurture their loved ones with delicious offerings from some of the country’s best restaurants, artisans, and other fine food purveyors, including Ben’s Best Kosher Deli, Grandma’s Chicken Soup, and Kenny & Ziggy’s Delicatessen, while simultaneously lightening their own loads in order to be more fully present on the holiday.
If you’re hosting Yom Kippur this year, isn’t it time you stopped worrying over how you’ll pull off the meals and started thinking about the true meaning of the holiday? Shop foods and much more to get your Yom Kippur off to a delicious start and finish. Shana tova and enjoy!