Posts Tagged ‘Yom Kippur’

The Jewish Hunger Games

September 16, 2013

This post first appeared as “Sacred cow served on a schtick” in The Times of Israel.

Scene from 'Jewish Hunger Games: Kvetching Fire' (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Scene from ‘Jewish Hunger Games: Kvetching Fire’ (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

It was only a matter of time before someone made the connection between the title of the blockbuster science fiction book and film series and the Jewish Day of Atonement.

This year, in preparation for the Yom Kippur fast, hundreds of thousands watched a parody movie trailer titled, “The Jewish Hunger Games.”What better way to psyche yourself up for not eating or drinking for a whole day than to watch Katniss Everstein and Peeta Hummus getting ready to do whatever it takes to make it through to Ne’ila?

The spoof’s directorAndrew Zenn, along with its writers Jon Rudnitsky and Jack Michelman, stayed true to the original film trailer, only putting a Jewish twist on everything. Even supporting characters went through a conversion, with drunken mentor Haymitch Abernathy becoming Chayimitch Abernathy and Katniss’ younger sister Primrose now named PurimRose. Gale Hawthorne is now Goyim Gale and can’t understand Katniss’ fasting agony.

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Rabbis vs. Dietitians: What’s The Quick Route to an Easy Fast?

September 5, 2013

This article was first published in JWeekly.

You won't lose any weight, but there are ways to make your Yom Kippur fast go more easily.

You won’t lose any weight, but there are ways to make your Yom Kippur fast go more easily.

If there’s one thing most Jews can agree on, it’s that fasting on Yom Kippur isn’t easy. Unless you happen to be an ascetic, or are really into the latest detox/cleansing trend, not eating for almost 25 hours can be challenging.

But there are ways to set yourself up for a successful fast, and according to Bay Area rabbis and dietitians, it’s all about how and what you consume heading into the Day of Atonement.

“According to Jewish law, we are supposed to have a heavy meal as our last one before fasting,” notes Rabbi David Booth of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto.
But is that a good thing?

Not according to clinical dietitian Denise Garbinski of San Francisco.

“You want to prepare your body the best you can, so you can be meditative and not focus on your hunger,” Garbinski says. “So, you want to eat a nutrient-dense meal, not necessarily a large meal.”

She recommends consuming complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes (rather than white potatoes), healthy fats (avocados, nuts) and high-quality proteins like tofu, seitan, beans or fish.

In other words, traditional Ashkenazi Jewish holiday fare — made with refined sugar and flour, high in fat and low on fiber — is not the way to go just before Kol Nidre.

“You want to feel full, not stuffed,” Garbinski notes. “You want to eat foods that break down slowly.”

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Casting Our Sins In To The e-Wilderness

August 29, 2013

This article was first published in Haaretz.


SAN FRANCISCO – If you keep an eye out, you’ll notice a goat wandering around the Internet.

This being the Jewish season of repentance, it isn’t just any goat. It’s an electronic scapegoat onto which computer and smart phone users are unloading their sins in a virtual reenactment of the ancient Yom Kippur ritual described in Chapter 16 of Leviticus.

“I’m too often grateful to get to work and away from my spouse and kid,” confesses one person. “I sexted my ex,” admits someone else. Another individual divulges that they “once ate bacon before the rabbi came over.” One parent apparently only “go[es] cycling with my kids just to get a tan.”

While we may be reluctant to own up to our misdoings, it seems that eScapegoat, a new web app from G-dcast, a fast-growing San Francisco-based Jewish educational media production company, is helping some of us overcome our sheepishness. G-dcast makes self-reflection easy. If you can tweet, then you can atone.

All you need to do is go to and read short texts on the biblical scapegoat story and how it relates to today’s observance of Yom Kippur. Then you enter your maximum 120 character-long confession and post it anonymously. You just type and click your way through the initial stage of atonement. “It’s just like the bible, only nerdier,” the on-screen text tells us.

There is, however, one major difference between then and now. In biblical times, the sins cast onto the scapegoat only went as far as the animal made it in the desert before dying. With this cyberspace-dwelling cartoon goat, our sins could live on forever, having been broadcast out to the world through eScapegoat’s (lightly moderated)@SinfulGoat Twitter feed.

Click here to read more.

@ 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.