Today is December 13, 2019 -

Jewish Fast Day Mindfulness Initiative

By Hazzan Michael Krausman

As we learned from our recent Scholar-in- Residence, Abigail Pogrebin, every occasion on the Jewish calendar has its own unique significance and relevance to our lives. This is especially true for the cycle of fast days that are sprinkled throughout the Jewish Year. While Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most widely observed fast day and Tisha B’Av, the day on which we mourn the destruction of both Holy Jerusalem Temples (observed on July 17, 2018), is marked by many, there are five minor fast days that don’t always resonate in our Jewish consciousness. Pogrebin, in her captivating presentation, reminded those present that there is a unique relevance to be found in each special date on the calendar. With that in mind, one of the lessons we learn from these ritual fast days is to be cognizant of the fact that there are, unfortunately, so many individuals who have no choice – they fast not due to religious observance, but due to a lack of available food.

Therefore, we are proposing the Jewish Fast Day Mindfulness Initiative. On each of the prescribed fast days, we will express mindfulness of those who do not have access to the food they need by making a donation to a food pantry or other organization that addresses the problem of hunger. For this year we have chosen as our recipient the Food Bank for the Heartland, https://foodbankheartland.org.

On each of the traditional fast days (or on the day before in the case of Yom Kippur), we encourage you to make whatever contribution you can. Not only will you be fulfilling the Mitzvah of Feeding the Hungry, but you will add a new layer of meaning to your Jewish Experience. Together, we can rekindle an age-old practice in a modern light, and make a difference in the lives of others.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact me at the synagogue or email me at: hazzankrausman@bethel-omaha.org.


Lesser Observed Fast Days:

Taanit Esther (Fast of Esther)
February 28, 2018

The Megillah recounts how Esther encouraged the entire community to join her in a fast before she approached King Ahasuerus in an effort to save the Jews of Persia.

Ta’nait B’Chorot (Fast of the First Born)
March 30, 2018

In commemoration of the 10th plague which mandated the death of the first born of Egypt, the first born of every Jewish family is required to fast on the day of the first Passover Seder. This fast can be cancelled by participating in a Siyum – a ritual meal celebrating the completion of a Rabbinic Tractate.

Shiva Asar B’ Tamuz (17th of the month of Tamuz)
July 1, 2018

This fast day commemorates the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem leading to the destruction of the Holy Temple in 76 C.E.

Tzom Gedalia (Fast of Gedalia, the day after Rosh Hashanah)
September 12, 2018

Tzom Gedalia commemorates the assassination of the Jewish Governor of Judea, thus ending Jewish rule over Jerusalem following the destruction of the first Temple in 586 B.C.E.

Asara B’Tevet (10th day of the Month of Tevet)
December 18, 2018

This is the commemoration of the siege of Jerusalem by Babylonian Despot Nebuchadnezzar, leading up to the destruction of the Holy Temple in 586 B.C.E.