The visit of Pope Francis coupled with Yom Kippur have frozen a fair share of congressional activity in Washington this week.
Yom Kippur begins this evening. President Obama issued a statement on the Day of Atonement today before leaving to greet the pope’s arrival at Joint Base Andrews.
“As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather for the sacred service of Kol Nidre, Michelle and I extend our wishes for an easy fast to all those observing Yom Kippur,” Obama said. “The Day of Atonement is a time for humility, reflection and repentance, a chance to be honest with ourselves and one another about our shortcomings.”
“Yet Yom Kippur is also a day of hope. Through our prayers and through our actions, as individuals and as a community, we can better bridge the realities of our world with the ideals and values we share,” the president continued. “On this special day, may our common humanity unite us, and may our common faith in a better future inspire us to continue healing our world. G’mar Chatimah Tovah.”
Secretary of State John Kerry separately called Yom Kippur “a time of profound prayer, repentance, fasting, and self-examination.”
“The High Holidays are a special time when Jews pause to reflect on the past year and recommit themselves for the year ahead. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, provides an opportunity for spirituality, prayer, and contemplation; for families and friends to gather in worship; and for a re-dedication to core values of the Jewish people — to pursue justice, perform acts of kindness, lift up those who are less fortunate, and advance the cause of peace,” Kerry said. “It also serves as a reminder for people of all faiths about the importance of humility and the need for charity and compassion toward those in material or spiritual need.”
“On the occasion of the end of the Days of Awe, we wish the Jewish communities in the United States and across the globe a happy and healthy start to the new year of 5776. Shana tova.”