For all of you goys out there, Yom Kippur is the holiest of holies. It is a day of atonement and repentance observed by fasting from sundown to sundown and going to prayer services. It’s believed that on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, God writes everyone’s fate for the year in the Book of Life and then “seals the deal” on Yom Kippur. During the eight days in between, the Days of Awe, Jews try to repent for any wrong they have done against God or another human being so God will bring them good tidings for the rest of the year. That’s why common Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur greetings are “shanah tovah” (for a good year) or “gmar chatima tova” (may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for Good). These greetings may sound more awkward than saying “Happy New Year!” or “Merry Christmas”, but it’s more appropriate than saying “Happy Yom Kippur!” because after all, it is a day of penance.
During the service I went to, people were encouraged to share their wrong doings with the temple so the temple could forgive them. Many people called out their sins such as not supporting a friend in need or giving up on a social cause. Would Don Draper speak up? (If he did, he’d probably something vague and open ended.)
In addition to fasting, Jews are not allowed to eat, drink (alcohol or nonalcoholic), wear leather shoes, bath or wash, use perfume, or have marital relations in order to cleanse themselves. From the soles of his shoes (most likely leather, possibly Italian leather) to his fingertips (which are almost always holding a drink), Don Draper would not be a good Jew, although without a doubt, he could find a way around no marital relations.
The song "Babylon," based on Psalm 137 ("Psalm 137") when the Jews were exiled from Babylon, (click here to see the original version sung by Don McLean), is a typically sung at Temple. Thought it wasn’t written for Mad Men, it seems to relate to Draper. Zion is a name for Jerusalem and the Biblical Land of Israel, but it also has become a metaphor for any Promised Land or wanted goal. It has even been used in a spiritual meaning, symbolizing the yearning by wanderers for a safe homeland ("Zion"). What a coincidence, since Don could not have seemed more out of place and exiled than he did in the last scene of Babylon when Midge and her obtuse friend dragged Don to a show in the middle of Bohemia in Greenwich Village (see Don looking sad and alone here!). Don Draper is a vagabond, constantly wandering in between the city and the suburbs, going from woman to woman without finding a true confidant or soul mate. Although recently, Don has been confiding bits of his past and his worries to Rachel Menken, could she be his Zion?
"Psalm 137." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 15 Sept 2010. Web. 26 Sep 2010.
"Zion." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 11 Sept 2010. Web. 26 Sep 2010.