Today I am sitting at my son's graveside. It is where I have spent the last ten Yom Kippur holidays. This is called the Day of Atonement. Most Jews spend this holiest of days in synagogue praying and fasting. We are tasked with evaluating our behavior and asking for forgiveness. I used to do it this way.
This week included the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur -- The Day of Atonement. This ritual of self-examination and seeking forgiveness is one we could all benefit from. And as this week's headlines demonstrate, there is certainly no shortage of opportunities for public figures to do so. The day after the head of the Secret Service resigned, it was revealed that, just last week, a man impersonating a Congressman had gotten backstage at an event attended by President Obama. In Texas, health officials disclosed that the doctors who saw the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. initially sent him home, thinking he had a low-level infection. And while Friday's jobs numbers delivered the lowest unemployment rate since 2008, participation in the labor force is at its lowest level in 36 years. No matter which religious traditions you embrace, there's never a bad time for sober reflection on how we, as individuals and as a country, could be doing better.
For most of my life, I thought of Yom Kippur as a time for fear and trembling, a time for deep, powerful, intense work, and of course fasting and other forms of self-affliction. But somewhere along the way, I got to see another face of the day -- one of dancing, singing and celebration as we ask for our lives to be rendered anew.