Day of Atonement

At sundown today begins Yom Kippur:

Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎‎, … or יום הכיפורים), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”). (link)

Despite the deep seriousness (and foodlessness) of the day, many have been tempted to play on the name, as here:


(Hat tip to Bert Vaux, who credited Russell Mystiek.)

As for kippers:

A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish, that has been split from tail to head, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold smoked. (link)

Suitable for breaking the fast, though lox or smoked whitefish (and eggs, bread, and cheese) would be more traditional.

7 Responses to “Day of Atonement”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    I note that the Wikipedia article uses Jewish people rather than Jews, in an attempt to avoid the supposed offense of Jews — a strategy that, sigh, just reinforces the idea that Jews is offensive.

  2. Barry Shein Says:

    Just to pick a nit, I was taught that the sabbath is the holiest day of the year because it’s the only day mentioned specifically in the ten commandments.

  3. Julian Lander Says:

    Yes (he typed on the holiday itself), but Yom Kippur is also referred to as Shabbat Shabbaton, or the Sabbath of Sabbaths, so it may win after all. I find a recent trend to downplay the primacy of the ten commandments among some modern Jewish voices, and a tendency to emphasize other parts of the Torah (Pentateuch) instead. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ll also note that traditions for a break-fast meal vary widely. My family tends go with pickled herring, so a kipper is not so far away, and a dairy noodle kugel: not particularly sweet, with cottage cheese and sour cream in the recipe. I made one last night to eat tomorrow evening, and I have my annual jar of pickled herring in the refrigerator, unopened, waiting.

  4. h.s. gudnason Says:

    FWIW, Pickelhäring was the name of the lead comedian in English theater groups who played in Germany during the 17th century, after the English theaters had been closed:

    He’s explicitly a character in Andreas Gryphius’s Herr Peter Squentz, which is based on the Rude Mechanicals scenes in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    Not sure why pickled fish were considered funny–perhaps it’s a precursor of the Fish Slapping Dance.

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