Feeling bad again? Have a Yom Kippur Lite

HOW ARE YOU feeling now? Cleansed? Relieved? Filled with new resolve? Somehow mysteriously lightened of the burden of the awful life you live?

No? Really? So you are still stumbling around in the same old benighted stew of guilt, your entire life - work, relationships, inner thoughts - predicated upon your awareness of failure? Such a shame, and your own fault entirely for not being Jewish. Would I lie?

Last Wednesday, you see, was Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement. Jews know about Yom Kippur. Jews say: "I won't be at work tomorrow; it's Yom Kippur." Jews say: "What do you mean, come round and play Evil Doctor and Nurse Baby-Doll tonight? Don't you know it's Yom Kippur? And anyway, don't call me at home." Jews say: "Yom Kippur? Merely an epiphenomenon of what is essentially a cultural construct but don't tell my mother I said so or she'll kill me." Jews say: "Was it? Oh no! I forgot! You should have reminded me!" Jews say: "Well, funny how some of us manage to remember, maybe we don't have such busy and overwhelming lives as Mister Big Shot here."

And everyone else says: "Yom Kippur? Oh, really?" and assume it's something to do with Magic Food, because that's what religion is about these days, except in America, where it's still like the old days, all about seeing angels and shooting people in the head for saying "You did not so see an angel." And everyone knows that Jewish Magic Food is much the most elaborate, being based on a system which can be summed up as dividing food into four main categories, ie, "Don't eat that, it's dirt", "Don't eat that, you don't know where it has been", "Don't eat that, it's not kosher", and "What do you mean, you don't like it, your mother slaved over a hot stove for hours, you're not too big to go over my knee, Mister Big Shot".

Yom Kippur is not about Magic Food. Yom Kippur is about atonement, about coming to terms with one's defalcations and inadequacies as a human being, about seeking forgiveness and about granting it when it is sought. In short, Yom Kippur is the obvious ceremony for our times. We have just witnessed the most powerful man in the world being pillored for being human and fallible and telling lies. We tune in in our millions to the abominable, baroque breast-beatings of Oprah and The Jerry Springer Show to watch people putting themselves in the pillory for being human and fallible and turning into people of the opposite sex, or eating dawgs, or being monstrously fat or gay or incestuous or nasty or venal or deceitful or grandiose or sad or incompetent or just for not doing very well in one way or another.

Governments make foolish apologies to each other for things their predecessors did or didn't do. Religious leaders apologize to other religious leaders for saying that the other religious leaders' religions were silly or horrible or just plain wrong. Every day, we are all encouraged to feel bad about something: smoking, not walking enough, using our car, spoiling the ozone layer, wearing noisy perfume, being nasty to women, being nasty to men, caring for our household pets, not being sufficiently integrated personalities, despoiling Third World countries in the name of Profit, being culturally smug, marginalising black people just because they are black, shouting at white people just because they are white, not working hard enough, working too hard, eating too much meat, believing too much in science, not believing in science, clinging to the old ways and failing to be a young, modern nation, forgetting the old ways entirely and losing our sense of cultural racination - in short, being rotters.

Hence Oprah. Hence The Jerry Springer Show. Hence the Starr Report. We are all being made to feel so awful, all of the time, that our only relief is to find someone who either is, or is at least prepared to claim to be, so much more awful than we are ("He wanked! On her dress!") that we seem, if not okay, at least just about tolerable in comparison.

So what I suggest is Yom Kippur Lite. You don't need to swallow all the God stuff, or go to the synagogue. You don't even need to actually pray, and you certainly don't have to learn Hebrew. Instead, we set aside a day each year - 30 September has a nice, hopeless, cusp-of-the-declining-season feel about it - on which everyone in the whole world can beat their breasts and moan to each other about how bad they are, and weep and apologise and go down on their knees.

Banks can ring up their customers and apologise for overcharging, for screwing up direct debits, and making sure that the cashpoint machine always goes on the blink at 02:15 on Sunday morning when everyone's trying to get home. Doctors can apologize for taking the wrong leg off or for missing your horrible tumour when it was still treatable, and now you're going to die. Shop assistants can accuse themselves of being arrogant and tetchy; lawyers can rend their garments for their pompous venality, and for being bad in bed. Journalists can smite themselves for their stupidity and scaremongering; television personalities for their impenetrable self- regard; Mr Pulvertaft down the road can excoriate himself for doing the bare minimum, not to mention that incident with Mr Klarfeldt's temp, and Mrs Pulvertaft can bow her head about all those times on the path behind the tennis club with Dennis from the Council road maintenance depot, not to mention Dennis's friends, all of whom liked her little white tennis skirt which is more than Mr Pulvertaft ever did, but all the same it simply will not do.

You can see the attraction: everyone in a state of complete abject self- mortification for one whole guttering day. The earth noisy with sobs and the sound of rending lapels, awash with tears, wide-eyed and reconciliatory. And then the deep endorphin sleep, and no mention of it for another year. I think it is a brilliant notion, and I hope to introduce it in a special Wailing Room at the Millennium Dome, sponsored, of course, by Kleenex. !

Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little