09/21/2012 04:00 pm ET

Table Talk: The Jewish High Holidays

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

This week marked the beginning of the Jewish high holidays. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year celebration, started on Monday at sundown, and Yom Kippur -- a more solemn event -- begins next Tuesday.

The Day of Atonement, as Yom Kippur is called in English, is one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar. It is a day to ask forgiveness for any sins that you may have committed in the year that has just ended. Tradition states that "on Rosh Hashannah it is written," meaning your fate is inscribed by God in the "Book of Life" as a new year begins. And, "on Yom Kippur it is sealed." By repenting -- fasting from sundown to sundown and spending the day in prayer at temple -- you are confirming that fate. At the end of the holy day, Jewish families break the fast with a traditional meal -- bagels and lox.

Unsurprisingly, all of this tradition makes the day a big one for the Jewish people. Attendance at services is notably higher on Yom Kippur than any other occasion as families want to make sure they repent for any sins -- and start the year off well.

Outside of religious reasons though, asking for forgiveness – and giving it -- is healing. Saying you are sorry for even the smallest misstep has proven benefits like a stronger immune system, lower anxiety and overall better psychological well-being ().

So whether or not you celebrate the Jewish holidays, it’s a great time of year to think about forgiveness. Let's start tonight at the family table.

Questions for discussion:

  • Who do you need to forgive?
  • Is there anyone you wish would forgive you?
  • If you knew you'd be forgiven at the end of the year, is there anything you'd do differently?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.