This week concludes the 10 days of atonement in the Jewish calendar, culminating in Yom Kippur. Whether one practices cultural, reform, or orthodox Judaism, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and most of us conform in some way to its laws and customs.
At the conclusion of the Yom Kippur service the story of Jonah is read, where God instructs Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and command them to repent. One of the many morals of the story of Jonah is that even though Jonah was reluctant to go to the wicked city, he felt a responsibility to try to teach right from wrong and look out for others. Crucially, individuals have the choice between what is right and what is easy.
These biblical values resonate with me and are still poignant in wider society today. The lessons we can take from Yom Kippur and the book of Jonah is that individually we have the responsibility to do the right thing and help others, especially people who are outside our comfort zone because of their different gender, ethnicity, class, or religion. The most significant value to take from this holy day is to teach others to realise that they have the power to know right from wrong. Modern society needs us to realise that none of us are intrinsically better than other people, rather we must all work to do the right thing in our decisions. This historic holy day is truly unique because of this lesson, and has something to teach us no matter who we are and what society we are in.
– Louie Harris, Muchan