Menu ideas for breaking the Yom Kippur fast

By Margi Lenga Kahn, Special to the Jewish Light

Yom Kippur is our opportunity for t’shuvah, for repentance. I have always thought of this special holiday as a spiritual journey, a time to recognize our shortcomings, to find the good in each of us, to recognize the importance of caring for others and to acknowledge and show respect for the beauty that exists all around us. A lot goes into this journey, and the rewards are many.

Fasting on Yom Kippur is part of the cleansing process, preparing us to do the work of t’shuvah. As an act of humility and compassion toward the animal world, many Jews refrain from wearing leather on this day and dress in white or light-color clothing. Another tradition is to break the fast with a light meal, usually not meat and primarily dairy.

I have wonderful childhood memories of Yom Kippur. It was exciting to get ready for a day of services, donning my nicest outfit and shoes. But my most cherished memory was watching my father prepare for shul. He would put on a fresh white dress shirt, a tie, his finest suit and his once-a-year white Keds tennis shoes. He left for services well before my mother, sister and me, and he was the last one to return home, long after sunset.

My sister and I would help my mother quickly prepare and arrange our break fast meal, which included a beautiful round challah, a cold soup, a warm kugel or gratin of some sort, a platter of fresh vegetables and some sides for our bagels. All on a crisp white tablecloth. We welcomed our close family friends, and together we all waited for my father to arrive. After all, we were hungry.

But when my father walked through the front door, we all forgot our hunger. My father glowed, radiating warmth and happiness. Beginning with my mother, he greeted everyone with a kiss and a hug and a “good yontif.” Then he raised his silver wine cup and sang the kiddish, each year more beautifully than the last. Ahh, such lovely memories.

Though our break fast gatherings may be more intimate this year because of the pandemic, they need not be less joyful. I invite you to think of all your cherished holiday memories and to prepare for a year of good health, happiness and human kindness.

The break fast menu below is easy to prepare, and most everything can be made in advance. Arrange the salad just before serving.

Margi Lenga Kahn is the mother of five and grandmother of seven. A cooking instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory, she is working on a project to preserve the stories and recipes of heritage cooks. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at [email protected].


Spiced honey biscotti

Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets, Red Onions, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Orzo and Fennel Gratin

Cold Potato Leek Soup (Vichyssoise)