President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaA simple fix can bring revolutionary change to health spending US and UK see eye to eye on ending illegal wildlife trade Top nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report MORE marked the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur on Tuesday, wishing "an easy fast" to those observing the day in the United States, Israel and abroad.
“The Day of Atonement is a time for humility, reflection and repentance, a chance to be honest with ourselves and one another about our shortcomings,” Obama said in a statement. “Yet Yom Kippur is also a day of hope."
Obama called the holiday an opportunity for people to use prayer and forgiveness to "better bridge the realities of our world with the ideals and values we share."
Yom Kippur, which begins Tuesday evening, is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Jews typically observe the holiday by fasting and praying for atonement for sins.
This year, the holiday coincides with Pope Francis’s visit to Washington, D.C. Obama is expected to greet Francis upon his arrival at Joint Base Andrews just hours before the holiday begins at sundown.
The timing has complicated matters for Jewish lawmakers and politicos wishing to attend welcome festivities at the White House on Wednesday and his speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.
Asked about the conflict last week, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the White House pushed the Vatican to ensure Jewish community members could participate in other “important interfaith efforts” during the pope’s visit.
“We were very mindful — as was the Vatican — in ensuring that that would be the case, knowing that his time here was going to overlap with Yom Kippur,” Rhodes said.
In his statement, Obama called the holiday for people of all faiths to find common values.
“On this special day, may our common humanity unite us, and may our common faith in a better future inspire us to continue healing our world,” he said.
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