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High Holy Days, Forgiveness and the Criminal Justice System

On Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world fast and spend the day praying. The fast is meant to clear our minds in order to foster a deep connection with God as we try to repent and return to the best versions of ourselves. The Talmud teaches us that the merit in the fast day lies in the charity dispensed. This serves to teach us that our fasting, our self-reflection, and our atonement alone are not complete without acts of loving-kindness and compassion for the world and our fellow human beings. 

Between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we have the power to change the fate of our judgment. This is why we say in the Un’tane Tokef prayer that “repentance, prayer, and charity temper judgment’s severe decree.” These three acts are necessary to lead us down the path of redemption. During the High Holy Days, as we account for our sins over the past year, we also turn our attention to the criminal justice system, and ask if everyone who passes through it is treated equally and justly.