5 Reasons a Holiday About Fasting Is the Best Food Holiday

published Sep 15, 2017
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For many families and congregations, Yom Kippur is a very serious Jewish holiday. Meaning the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year and the whole point is to ask G-d and your fellow humans for forgiveness so you can start the year with a clean slate. The holiday includes a 24-hour fast.

When I was growing up, my (very) reform family took the holiday seriously in that we went to synagogue, fasted, and broke the fast with our extended family (thanks for hosting, Uncle Irv!). The way we were probably not serious enough was that we used to call it Yum Kippur amongst ourselves. (No disrespect intended, of course!) My brother and I came up with that pun because the food at break fast was our favorite.

Here’s why a holiday about fasting is actually the best food holiday — at least in my opinion.

1. It’s basically breakfast for dinner.

I’m gonna go ahead and make a blanket statement: Everyone loves breakfast for dinner. Seriously, everyone. And most break fasts are essentially just breakfast for dinner. There are lots of bagels, bananas and strawberries in sour cream (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!), lox, orange juice, and more.

2. Kugel makes an appearance on the table.

Kugel is an irresistible traditional baked noodle casserole. While there are a ton of different ways to make it either sweet or savory, my Bubbie (grandmother) used to make the best sweet version, covered with a buttery, graham cracker crumble and topped with canned cherry pie filling. Growing up, it was my favorite food, which was a bummer because Bubbie only made it a few times a year — at most. But she always made it for Yum Kippur! (She also, upon request, made it once for my birthday and stacked layers like a cake, adding candles and everything! She was the best!)

Try this less sweet version: Mom’s Simple Savory Kugel

3. You’re supposed to eat all the carbs.

As a kid, I loved carbs and always wanted to eat them. Ditto for now. On Yum Kippur, it’s totally acceptable to eat two bagels. Maybe even three! Plus, pastries and noodle-y kugel. There’s fish for protein (plenty of lox, whitefish salad, and baked salmon), but no one is going to yell at you if you’re just munching away on a bagel. In fact, all the Jewish ladies will make sure there’s always a bagel in your hand.

4. You get to eat on the couch!

Some families might sit down to a more formal dinner table, but we always had a lot of people back at Uncle Irv’s, so everyone would just grab a seat and eat where they could. Some years I’d eat on the couch; others I’d be on the stairs. Sometimes I’d even get to eat on the porch. The rest of the year, dinner was almost always served at the table and I remember being so excited to get to eat somewhere new and exciting — even if it meant teetering plates and bowls on my lap.

5. You’re super hungry by the time it’s okay to eat.

Even if you’re not a fan of stinky fish (again, so much lox and whitefish!), you might become one after a day of not eating. These foods have always been some of my favorites and they magically taste even better after 24 hours of fasting.

More on Yom Kippur

Have you been to a Yom Kippur break fast? Do you agree with me about the food?