Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur – Before and After the Fast

Adapted from my book, Food for the Soul – Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating

Judaism has always acknowledged the relationship between the physical and spiritual elements of life, and most of our holidays embrace both, through celebration and prayer.

On Yom Kippur we strive to elevate the spiritual while setting aside the physical. Fasting allows us to disregard, but not totally neglect, our physical needs in order to better concentrate on our spiritual ones.

To ensure an easy and safe fast, drink plenty of water a few days in advance, so that you will be completely hydrated. If you usually drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, start tapering off a week or so before the fast, to minimize withdrawal headaches.

On the day before the fast, avoid eating heavily salted and fried foods. Try to eat foods containing complex carbohydrates and continue drinking lots of water.

Erev Yom Kippur dinner should begin early enough to allow for a relaxed meal before leaving for the synagogue. You might want to eat a mid-morning brunch that day or a hearty breakfast followed by a very light lunch or mid-day snack; that way you can start dinner early enough to avoid rushing.

Include complex carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and a small amount of fat in the pre-fast meal. Use salt sparingly, to avoid thirst later on. Stay away from overly sweet and spicy foods, carbonated beverages and alcohol. Eating a moderately sized meal may actually make fasting easier than trying to eat enough at dinner “to cover” for the next day.

Here’s a menu idea: Green salad dressed with olive oil, vegetable soup, baked chicken or turkey breast, brown rice pilaf and poached fruit.

We like to break the fast with a light dairy meal. Tuna, salmon and vegetable salads can all be prepared the day before the fast. Sometimes I bake a dairy casserole, kugel or quiche and re-heat it in the microwave when we return home.

It’s best to avoid a large heavy meal. And be sure to drink plenty of water to rehydrate after the fast.

G’mar chatimah tovah and best wishes for an easy fast.

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Olive Oil Cake

This light-textured sponge cake is not too rich, yet full of flavor. Serve it with fresh or cooked fruit. On Rosh Hashanah I served it with oven-poached figs and a small scoop of home-made honey ice cream.

It would be perfect for breaking the fast after Yom Kippur.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar, divided

4 eggs, separated

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh orange or tangerine juice or half juice and half citrus liqueur

Grated zest of one lemon, orange or tangerine, preferably organic


Line the bottom of a 10″ (25 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Spray the bottom and sides with non-stick cooking spray.

Preheat the oven to 325 F (165 C)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in ¼ cup of the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks are formed. Transfer the whites to a clean bowl and set aside.

In the same bowl of the electric mixer (no need to wash the bowl), beat the remaining ¾ cup of sugar with the egg yolks on high speed until they’re thick and pale. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add in the olive oil, juice and zest. Stop the mixer, add the dry ingredients and mix together gently. The batter will be thick.

Gently and gradually fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, until they’re thoroughly incorporated. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes and then remove the sides of the pan to cool completely.

Serves 12

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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