The Kilimanjaro Series: A Reflection on erev Yom Kippur

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A note from Moshe:

So tonight is erev Yom Kippur or the eve of the Day of Atonement, I’m in Africa and starting a hike up Kilimanjaro tomorrow. The next 25 hours are supposed to be spent introspective and fasting. I’ve done that for the past obligatory 46 years. I’ll be spending it at one with nature profoundly moved by the glory of creation.

Every year I take the MJDS 8th grade class to Masada I ask them to check their pulse at the entry gate one hour before sunrise. I ask them to check it again when we arrive to the top. We then share our morning prayers. There is a prayer that thanks G-d for all the opening and closing of pores, veins and all other such matter. The look of ‘getting it’ in their faces is a pleasure to behold. Morning prayers making sense.

Yom Kippur prayers will be rushing through my brain for the next 25 hours including U’netane Tokef, an especially challenging one that shares that our lives hang in the balance each year at this time, with the unknown ahead. Tell me that hiking to 19,250ft isn’t a reflection on that prayer. Or Yizkor, the prayer recalling all those whom have passed. When I hiked to Base Camp Everest two years ago, my deceased father joined me for that whole day. I expect he will be back sometime in the next few days for a visit.

Yom Kippur ought be spent in temple. I really believe that. I also believe we need to find space and place for the best reflections we can have for the most powerful of all the Jewish Holydays. I’m thinking I have!

sarah pollack