How Yom Kippur transforms perceptions of disability

7 October 2019

If you hear about the festival of Purim, you think hamantaschen; Shavuot is cheesecake; Rosh Hashanah is apple and honey; and Yom Kippur is, well, all of the above by their absence. Through our 25-hour fast we become closer to G-d, the people around us and even our own selves.

We do this for a number of reasons (none diet related). It’s to cleanse, reflect and absolve. If the festival had a tagline it could be: say goodbye to your sins – after you’ve understood why you’ve made them and come to terms with yourself and others.

So how does this relate to disability? One important action people reflect on at Yom Kippur is judgement – from deeming your neighbour’s chicken soup to be too watery to much more serious judgements of how we treat and view the people around us.

Through the people Norwood supports we come across so many stories of how residents were treated before they found us. Tales of bullying, mistreatment and neglect… From the smallest of comments to the largest of actions, every time a judgement is made it has an impact on a real person.

This year, when you come to reflect, think about the small comments. The passing thoughts. The judgements that may come from society and upbringing that are difficult to shake off. Reflect and think about the person on the other side – they’re probably reflecting on something, too.

One of the most inspiring parts of Yom Kippur is the atonement. We all have the ability to keep learning and pushing ourselves to challenge thoughts and to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

Let’s face it – if we can make it 25 hours without eating or drinking, we can do anything.