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Contemplating Jonah: Lay-led Meditation, Chanting, & Reflection on Yom Kippur Afternoon

by Jess Rosenblatt & Leslie Knight


What is this program?
On Yom Kippur afternoon, during the break between morning and afternoon services, we will lead a relaxed and contemplative program focused on the Book of Jonah.  We are still working on the exact details, but the session will last approximately an hour and the general plan is that Leslie will lead a guided meditation, Jess will chant the full Book of Jonah in Hebrew, and then there will be an opportunity for reflection.

Why did you decide to do this?
The break between services on Yom Kippur afternoon seemed like a good opportunity to try offering additional lay-led programming that complements the main services with other topics or experiences.  This program will offer space for meditation and reflection, as well as a more traditional experience of hearing the full Book of Jonah chanted in Hebrew.

Why Meditation? 
Leslie: As we all know, the High Holidays end a season of personal reflection.  I find that later in the day of Yom Kippur, after a day of fasting and contemplation, my brain is in a deeply contemplative, meditative state.  I want to take advantage of that feeling by focusing my mind on the themes found in traditional Jewish text.  I would like for us to meditate together on themes raised by Jonah and hopefully we gain some new insights into these themes and into ourselves.

Why Jonah?
Jess: I really enjoy the Book of Jonah.  For one thing, Jonah is somehow arguably both the most whiny and the most effective prophet in the Tanakh.  I find a lot of his choices very relatable even though they are clearly examples of what not to do.  This deceptively simple story includes a lot of interesting questions and food for thought.  To me its ultimate message is about the importance of compassion towards others and towards ourselves.  I really enjoy engaging with this text on Yom Kippur.

Anything else?
We hope you will join us on Yom Kippur afternoon for this relaxing and reflective program.

Jess Rosenblatt is CBE's Ritual Chair. She can be reached at
Leslie Knight is CBE's VP of Programming. She can be reached at


Mon, June 24 2024 18 Sivan 5784