Ed Cone has a point:
Yom Kippur is a day of introspection and not eating, and if there was ever a culture in need of introspection and not eating, we're it. Raised on hedonism and credit cards, Americans make every day a holiday and every meal a feast, to the point of devaluing actual holidays and feasts. We have name-branded golden calves and a television show called American Idol. At the same time, we are encouraged to think of ourselves as victims, not to take responsibility for ourselves. We could all use some of the dermabrasion for the soul that Yom Kippur promises.
On Yom Kippur, the idea is to take responsibility for who you are, and how you conduct yourself, how you treat other people, and how you are planning to do better at all those things in the year ahead. You are obligated to make things whole with those you have wronged, and to come to terms with those who have wronged you. This is the occasion to get right with God, which traditionally involves hours of prayer and fasting, along with a semi-annual visit to temple for twice-a-year Jews.
I would like to add this about the Day of Atonement (which I observe, yes I'm a strange Christian): Spending 24 hours without food and drink does tend to put the self in perspective. With a full belly, the world is yours. Starving, head-achy, empty and intensely food-focused, it becomes abundantly clear how fragile we humans are. Hunger is humbling.
In addition, the absence of food makes thinking easier. I don't know why, exactly, but even healthy food can bloat and release toxins, free of food, the mind thinks better. So, it's a great time to take stock and atone and seek forgiveness and forgive.
Ed Cone's idea is a good one. Americans can be fat and stupid. Better to be slim and smart--at least for one day a year.