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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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High Holy Day Breaking of Fast


  1. Feb 2007 Digest 022
    …After Yom Kippur services, we have a light break-the-fast (challah, wine, orange juice, pound cake/honey cake) and havdalah. Now our committee has received a request from a congregant to institute a more elaborate sit-down break-the-fast, which people would have to pay a fee to attend. Does anyone charge worshipers to attend an elaborate break-the-fast meal?...would it be within the scope of your Worship/Ritual Committee to deal with such an issue in the first place?
    about 300 units

  2. Feb 2007 Digest 022

    Our congregation does offer a communal break the fast, at a fee, with reservations required. Having never participated, I have no idea how many people participate nor how elaborate a meal is offered. But, particularly in a large urban congregation like ours, it fills a need for people who might otherwise be alone.

    Your post implies a number of questions beyond those you have asked directly. You seem to have some hesitation about charging a fee in a temple community that has been characterized by an all-inclusive approach. If that is one of your concerns, it needn't be. Although we are enjoined to feed the hungry, I don't interpret that as including those who are temporarily hungry because they've fasted for twenty-four hours.

    The next issue comes from your statement that your committee has received a request for this from a congregant. There's a subtle distinction here between a request and a suggestion. A request may mean, I have nowhere else to go to really break the fast (your "light" event is more symbolic than real); or it may mean, This would be a nice occasion for some community-building and adding some bet knesset to the bet tfila which has characterized the day. If it is the former, the solution may be to find a way to make sure that everyone is invited somewhere. And that may be a particularly relevant project in a college community where there are students away from their families.

    Your question as to whether this is a Worship Committee issue: Without knowing how your committee system is structured, this can't be answered definitively...but one way to get buy-in for new ideas is to spread the issue among all the committees that have a stake. (Caring Community? Membership? Program?) High on my compendium that I call Words I Live By: You can accomplish anything in this world if nobody cares who gets the credit.

    One last thought. It's not incumbent on a temple board to say Yes to every request from a congregant--but it is incumbent to take it seriously enough to try to determine whether the request is just the first manifestation of a community need. You might survey the congregation and ask If we offer this program, at a fee of $__, are you very likely, somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely or very unlikely to participate? What if the fee is $__? My guess is that, if you build it, they will come.

    1100 units

  3. Feb 2007 Digest 022
    We break the fast with a meal that is midway between a formal meal and…light fare…We set out tables with tablecloths and serve an inexpensive, catered vegetarian meal, smorgasbord style. In the past three or four years, 20 to 25 people stay for the meal. We suggest a donation to cover the cost. It's a lovely way to end the fast.
    75 member units

  4. Feb 2007 Digest 022
    Our temple has a quicky juice and challah for free, then we join at a local restaurant that donates part of its proceeds from customers with our flier to the temple ("Souplantation").
    323 families

  5. Feb 2007 Digest 022

    At the synagogue where I am clergy, we have a potluck break-the-fast, which most people stay for. Two women from Sisterhood have sign up sheets and coordinate it all before YK starts. We usually have a good variety of tuna salad, egg salad, pasta salads, cheeses, vegetables, breads, bagels, etc., and sweets and fruit. Of course we have tea, soda, coffee, water, juices, etc., also. People bring stuff to the synagogue either on Kol Nidrei eve or the day of YK. The tables are set with tablecloths, etc., before the holiday begins, and then the rest of the food is set out during N’ilah and Havdalah. After Havdalah, we make Motzi and then eat.

    It really is a nice way to end the evening. People tend to stay a decent length of time, but not too long.

    65 family units

  6. Feb 2007 Digest 022

    …We have a fairly large break-the-fast after YK in terms of people attending. No one pays; I believe it is sponsored by Men’s Club or something like that. We have attended once or twice in 7 years+, mostly we go off to friends or chavurah get togethers to eat after 25 hours of fasting. The temple B-T-F is bagels, lox, cream cheese, OJ, coffee, punch and cookies most years. Sometimes they have tuna salad and/or egg salad too. We have a good catering service nearby that knows what is kosher-style and what we need.

    Where we are located…there are a number of temples of varying flavors, so restaurants are rather booked after services. Private homes are a better choice, as the space we use for High Holidays is limited...

    I would think that forcing people to either RSVP and pay in advance, or somehow carry money or a check on a major holiday might cause a problem….

    I think, as was said, it is the responsibility of the temple to consider requests from members, but are not required to follow through with them all. Perhaps if the specific member wants to sponsor such an event, this would be nice. Or perhaps if they want to rent a hall, or the temple hall (if one exists) to hold a private chavurah event, that might be possible...

    600 family units

  7. Feb 2007 Digest 022

    We typically have a light snack following N’ilah and Havdalah. Cheese and crackers, vegetable tray, fruit tray, coffee etc., Honey Cake.

    We used to do a little more but when the needs post-Katrina were so great, we cut way back and sent the money we would have spent to the relief effort…

    This has been a part of the High Holy Day budget as long as I can remember (or that I was aware of). Just enough to get people where they are going for a more substantial meal.

    There is one local temple of which I am aware that offers a substantial break-the-fast for a fee with advance reservations. Their caterer is on site.

    400 member units

  8. Feb 2007 Digest 022

    For many years our temple hosted a pot-luck break-fast after services. Since it was pot-luck, there was no fee. It was lovely, warm, and a great end to a season of serious worship.

    …Such an event does require a dedicated and hard-working coordinator. The person who handled this event for a long time has been beset with health issues for the past several years. Alas, no one was willing to take up the challenge, and it was ended in exchange for an array of challah, wine, and juice. Many of us miss the pot luck…but it is quite a task.

    If someone is willing to do the work and build a committee to create such an event, I highly recommend it.

    180 families

  9. Feb 2007 Digest 023

    We are a small congregation of about eighty people. What we do is have people sign up for a dish on Rosh HaShanah and [ask that] they bring it to the place we have the break-the-fast meal on Yom Kippur afternoon. The first people to sign up get first choice re: main dish, vegetables, dessert, etc. Once a category is full, interested people bring food in an "open" category.

    A volunteer (usually a Board member) is in charge of the process to help it run smoothly and the Board "supplements" dishes if needed. This volunteer spends a few hours before the end of Yom Kippur making sure setting up of tables, etc is completed before Yom Kippur ends…

    around 80 family members

  10. Feb 2007 Digest 023

    We have had a communal potluck for many years. People offer and bring specialty items (two kinds of home-made chicken liver, e.g.). The Temple provides challah and mini-bagels, etc. A team of women work through the early afternoon and put everything together--many of them have been doing it for at least the past ten years, so it's a an annual Chevra of sorts. We don't charge anything.

    Our sanctuary is always full (it seats about 800 officially), and most of the people stay for at least a quick nosh. Some remain and consider it their version of a light dinner. A few even help clean up.

    But overall, it is one of the things our congregation finds unifying, especially at the beginning of the year. While it's very loud and crowded, it's also a powerful statement about the community as a whole.

    1000 units


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