Break the Yom Kippur Fast With These Sundown Salads

September 28, 2017

Yom Kippur, for me, has always been a somber affair. At a time when I should be practicing hindsight and reflecting on the previous year’s undoings, I find myself anxiously awaiting sundown in fast-induced stupor. To abstain from eating, we are taught, is to calibrate our bodies to some preternatural rhythm. We chase reflection and introspection through momentary hunger. While the practice is well-meaning and the thought pure, I’ve found myself in many a Yom Kippur service focused only on my break fast meal. But the purpose of Yom Kippur, to pine the previous year for acts that deserve penitence, can actually prove fruitful. And while many advise against dwelling, Yom Kippur posits that a backwards glance is in order.

Mother-daughter duo Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman have internalized this ethos in their cookbook, The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine. They've plumbed their family history for the foods of their past and tell it through recipes. Through stories of prosperity, community, isolation, and displacement they've recreated the tastes of their family’s kitchen. Their work solidifies the existence of recipes on the brink of nonexistence, culled from flaky scraps of paper and fast-fading memories.

With Yom Kippur fast approaching, their recipes feel particularly cogent. Jewish High Holy Days happen as the brisk breeze of fall starts to interrupt otherwise languid afternoons; stuffy synagogue attire often feels a tad profuse. To match this moment of transition—both spiritual and temporal—try your hand at these end of summer salads. They are light and tangy, but substantial. Better yet, they require simple preparation, so you can make them ahead of time, store them in the fridge, and pull them out at sundown, a colorful adornment for your break fast table.

How do you break fast on Yom Kippur? Tell us in the comments.

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Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


DC '. September 29, 2017
We break the fast with ice cream, then move on to other foods. This is something we have done for a number of years, after my mom picked it up from some friends of hers. It goes down easy and who, aside from the lactose intolerant, doesn't feel better when eating ice cream?
Diane G. September 28, 2017
Must have honey cake. My mom's was the best with an ooey gooey top.