Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Time to Atone

Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

I have not fasted in years. While Judaism is very important to me and such a part of who I am, I have played it fast and loose with some of the traditions these past few years.

I feel a shift this year and have decided only recently that I will fast tomorrow. I knew I was not going to work and I knew I was going to spend the day reflecting, but I was not sure if it was going to end there or not. 

I do not believe that I will be a better or a worse Jew by sundown tomorrow if I fast or don't fast. That's not what it's about. I know as many Jews who fast as who don't. I know many that keep kosher and many that eat scallops wrapped in bacon at every formal function they attend. No one seems to care, as far as I can tell. It's such a personal thing. Whatever degree of tradition or religion you celebrate or embrace is entirely up to you. 

When my uncle passed away in his 40's when I was a child, I first questioned my religion. Then again when my parents divorced. Then again when other loved ones died for reasons that I could never begin to understand. I felt myself falling away from my faith, but knowing that it would be there for me when I was ready.

It was very important for me to get married by a rabbi and we found a great one. It was very important to me that my family be raised Jewish and luckily, Gary was (and is) so supportive of that. Allie was considered Jewish and she had an English name and a Hebrew name. I know we used a Jewish funeral home to help us honor her and that was very important to me.

Miranda was converted to Judaism as soon as her adoption was final and she was also named at our synagogue. At both events, I felt choked up with emotion as I was introducing her to a world that, although not always clear to me, was such a part of me.

I am so grateful that Gary has embraced Judaism and what it means to me and what it will someday mean to our daughter.

In the meantime, I feel myself coming back. I am not sure to what extent just yet. I just know that from sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow, I will be fasting. I will be atoning. I will be trying to figure out what kind of Jewish role model I want to be for my daughter. The way I look at it, that is a very good way to spend my time.



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