Words & Banter

Food For Thought (& Laughter) On … Yom Kippur?!

Underlying photo by Alleko on iStock

Your stomach starts to growl, and you look at your watch, calculating how many more hours you have to endure before you can eat because, simply put, you’re hungry. Or, you can set aside the minor discomfort, appreciating that it’s a small sacrifice to make while you reflect on the past year as Yom Kippur, literally meaning the day of atonement, is a day for reflection, repentance, and forgiveness. And a promise to do better.

When we first ran the post below, it was looking back at a speaking engagement we did in 2014, but this year it’s about doing a repeat performance for Rabbi Scott. The High Holy Days, culminating with Yom Kippur, are about making fundamental changes – or at least adjustments – to how you live your life. And although it’s a spiritual journey, there’s no reason this year’s promise to be a better person can’t start by learning with laughter (and the rumbling of an empty stomach).



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I know that Yom Kippur isn't exactly known as one of the "fun" Jewish holidays, but every year I can't help but laugh at what's easily my number one Yom Kippur memory.


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That is what makes memories … memorable. And, finding something to laugh at on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is probably the most important and solemn Jewish holiday, would be memorable.


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I can't believe you're not even curious what it is!?


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You know I love to "connect the dots", and all you had to say was Yom Kippur, fun, and memory. Obviously, it was when Rabbi Scott asked us to speak before his congregation on Yom Kippur.


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Well, I still find it surreal that we were asked to speak about money on one of the High Holy Days. And that we titled our presentation, "Oy Vey, You Want To Talk About Money?"


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The day is about reflection, making fundamental changes – or at least adjustments – and trying to become a better person. And, just because it is a spiritual journey, there is no reason you cannot make learning fun.


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True. I remember the time Rabbi Scott put a piece of aluminum foil in the children's Yom Kippur service program to help them understand that Yom Kippur's a day for reflection. But even you must admit that making a congregation laugh about money on a religious holiday is a bit much.


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But, memorable. A few years later, I met someone that attended that service, and he said he's never forgotten it.


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For the content or all the food analogies?! I can remember we started by saying how we just wanted to give everyone some food-for-thought and then saying, "Oops, since Yom Kippur's a day of fasting, maybe bringing up the subject of food wasn't such a good idea."


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Of course, it did not stop us from doing it, again and again.


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How else could we explain our unexpected journey into personal finance without mentioning it started at our first speaking engagement … which was at a Jewish Federation breakfast?


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Or, how our detour into criminal justice started with me meeting with the chaplain at a men's prison? But I knew it was meant to be when she told me they had the only kosher kitchen in the Texas prison system.


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And each time we looked at each other and then the audience, and we all laughed! With each mention of food, it just got funnier and funnier. But there was no way to avoid it.


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I know. How could you tell the story about realizing all the money you were mindlessly spending at Jamba Juice without mentioning your almost-daily smoothies? Or, how you went grocery shopping at Whole Foods because it was convenient but not cost-effective. Anyway, until that day, I never realized how so many of our stories have to do with food.


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I think the highlight was toward the end when I was explaining how I felt overwhelmed trying to tackle personal finance. That at times, things seemed insurmountable, and then you told me … it's like eating an elephant, you can do it, just one bite at a time. And everyone started laughing again.


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On any other day, I doubt that analogy would make you think of food. But, on Yom Kippur, and especially since we were presenting after at least 15 hours of fasting, everything makes you hungry


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I guess it's like being so tired that you get slap happy. But I never thought a day of atonement and reflection could end up becoming a day of laughter.


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On Yom Kippur, we wish people an "easy fast" or a "meaningful fast" … and if a bit of laughter, even if not intended, helps, what is wrong with that?


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Good point. For that matter, you don't need to be Jewish to take a day, or even just an hour, to stop, to think, and to improve.


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No fasting required.
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less

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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!