As Yom Kippur was approaching this year, I found myself struggling with a question.
Was I going to fast?
So, I could either go the same route as most of my friends and family and fast, or I could do what I wanted to do.
Honestly, the idea of depriving myself of food for a day was ruining the holiday for me instead of enhancing its holiness. It’s not that fasting is difficult; it is actually quite easy. It’s just that that’s not the way I connect to the holiday, or my Judaism for that matter.
My brother, who has been fasting since he was pre Bar Mitzvah age, was questioning why I was making this decision. I explained to him that, just because I was going to be eating didn’t mean I don’t understand the holy day.
He explained his own reasoning to me. He shared that Yom Kippur reminds him of our grandfathers because he had been fasting with them since he was ten years old.
I think that his tradition is beautiful, but I think that mine is as well.
Something my cousin said struck me, “Just because you follow more ‘rules’ doesn’t mean you’re any more Jewish.” I really like this because as I told some people that I wasn’t going to be fasting they had a lot to say. I was really bothered by this until I realized what this holy day is all about. Yom Kippur challenges us to think about our motives and teaches us that we should strive to be a good person.
I work hard to be a good person everyday and do my best to appreciate the many different ways people chose to practice their Judaism.
I spent Yom Kippur reflecting on this past year. I was surrounded by some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m not only Jewish on the high holy days. My Judaism is an every day thing. It is my social life, my morals, my community and my passion.
I ate food on the Day of Atonement, and maybe you didn’t. But guess what? Neither of us is any more Jewish than the other.