Forgiveness Day and Yom Kippur

By Sherry Myers

This month, we are looking at two unique holidays that are similar in nature: International Forgiveness Day, celebrated on the 1st August of each year, and Yom Kippur which is recognized from September 22nd through the 23rd.

International Forgiveness Day was created by the World Forgiveness Alliance and is dedicated to evoke the healing power of forgiveness worldwide. It’s a time to forgive and be forgiven. Forgiveness, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: "to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt."Oprah Winfrey has spoken on her forgiveness "aha moment." She states that forgiving is giving up the hope that the past could be different and she talks about letting go so that the past does not hold you prisoner. If you were to hold a paper against the wall, you would be limited in how far you could move. You would only be able to move an arm’s length away from the paper. In order to move any further, you would have to let go of the paper. The paper symbolizes a grudge or an offense.  Until we forgive and let go, it tethers us to one place and hinders us from moving forward. To let go of an offense is not only beneficial to the person we forgive, but it also is a great relief to us - mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Yom Kippur is a Jewish Holiday celebrated this year on September 22nd. “Yom” stands for day and “Kippur” means to atone. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes a person’s fate for the coming year in The Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah and waits for Yom Kippur to seal the verdict. Yom Kippur is a day meant to be spent in prayer, seeking God's forgiveness for sins and pursuing atonement from others against whom the person has committed an offense. Many secular Jews also celebrate Yom Kippur.

These holidays are celebrated within different cultures, but both share a common theme of seeking forgiveness and cleaning the slate for a fresh start. Let’s make an effort this year to ask forgiveness from others and remember that any day is a good day to walk in love and forgiveness!