The Day before Yom Kippur, by Sholem Aleichem
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year in a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur, a week later, to “seal” the verdict. During the Days of Awe, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against G-d and against other human beings. In the shetls, the small Jewish hamlets of Eastern Europe, it was a custom for Jews to go from house to house, asking their neighbors for general forgiveness, just in case they had wronged them during the past year. In The Day before Yom Kippur, subtitled Sketches of Disappearing Types, Sholem Aleichem describes how three prominent shtetl characters behaved during the year, and then on this special day. This is taken from the book The Old Country, translated by Julius and Frances Butwin, and published in New York by Crown Publishers in 1946.