I think about fasting every Yom Kippur. Thinking is as far as I usually get. I grasp the concept of fasting and how it can make our minds open to more self-reflection. But no matter how hard I try, 24 hours without eating is just not possible. Some days, spending even a few hours without a snack is intolerable.

It is not just about the grumpiness that accompanies my hunger. There is dizziness, near-nausea, and a frenetic, temporary personality style that annoys anyone within five feet. I once consulted a nutritionist who prescribed more protein and regular healthy snacking. And yet, no bona-fide reason excuses me from fasting each Yom Kippur. It is my choice. I do not make the sacrifice that many Jews do. Call me a Yom Kippur slacker.

I annually attend break fasts, usually at a fellow chorus member’s house and join in the sighs of relief as we are surrounded by food aplenty. Because of singing in several services, I generally will have skipped an afternoon snack, so by my definition, I am beyond ravenous. And yet, what about those who truly fasted? Should they not get the first place in the food line? Am I a hypocrite for even coming to a break fast? I go because I treasure the company of friends. Few of us share notes on whether we fasted.

Maybe I should think of something to give up on Yom Kippur, a personal sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. I could attend a break fast with a lighter conscience.

Some of My Possible Yom Kippur Fast Substitutes:

created at: 2010-08-24

  • created at: 2010-08-24Skip the Venti Non-Fat Iced Chai tea I purchase nearly every morning from one of the local Starbanks – oops, I mean, Starbucks.
  • Do not read the morning paper. Yes, as a former journalist, I simply have to at least scan the headlines each morning.
  • No email, Facebook, Twitter, or any other browsing on the Internet.
  • Skip Grande Iced Chai I, uh, “sometimes” buy in the afternoon.
  • No caffeine, including chocolate.  

For me, it is a change to even contemplate fasting. In my childhood, my family never attended High Holy Day services. We had apples and honey at the table to mark a sweet Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah, but none of us were observant. I am a neophyte to my own religion in many ways. I celebrated my adult bat mitzvah in 2006 – just four years ago. I am starting to mark Shabbat in my own home with my husband and toddler. Only during the last decade have I regularly attended High Holy Day services, usually as a member of my temple chorus. My journey closer to Judaism is in constant flux. Some day, I may try to fast again.

So now that I’m confessing, what about you? Do you fast each Yom Kippur? If you do not, what might you give up instead? Or if we call ourselves Yom Kippur slackers, should we just accept what we are and move on?


Note: Photo of chocolate taken by Suat Eman. Used courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net. Eman portfolio can be found at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=151   


Originally posted on Jewish Muse.

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