Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur begins Wednesday night

I hate fasting.  Let me count the ways.

1. I hate having to get off coffee and caffeine so that I won’t have a headache all day.

2. I hate feeling weak and lacking focus.

3. I hate being thirsty and that dry sound your mouth makes.

4. I hate feeling tired.

5. Oh, yes, I also hate being hungry.


I trust that right about now you’re thinking, hey, it’s a free country!  No one is forcing you; so don’t fast!


But I love fasting.  I love it for the same reasons that Rashid gave for fasting on Ramadan – it gives a framework, a practice, a ritual that defines one’s life.  A dear friend of mine, also Muslim, told me he doesn’t fast here in the USA but back home in Algeria he always did.  “The whole community is together.  And the break the fast is wonderful!  Of course you do it to be part of your community.”


I fast to be “together” with my fellow Jews.  If they can do it, so can I!  So I’m weaning myself from coffee – trust me, I’ll be back to it come Friday morning!  I’ll eat lightly the day before just to get my system ready.  I’ll drink plenty of water the day before.


I extend to all of you the traditional greeting – may you have an easy fast.


A friend who will be fasting for the first time emailed me to ask what to expect, what if he feels dizzy?  What if he thinks he is going to pass out?  What would everyone else be doing?


To tell you the truth, I have seen a young man pass out.  So don’t do anything foolish.  If you feel weak, overly exhausted, light headed, sick – go drink something and eat something.  You are forbidden to endanger your health.  If you have medicines that you take daily – take them.  If they must be taking with food, eat!


What do others do?  Some people go to services, go home & take a nap, come back later.  Some leave after the morning services and just go home and eat lunch.  Some people never leave the synagogue; they stay for the discussions or study sessions (many synagogues have things going on in the afternoon).


Remember that this year can also be a trial run.  There are definitely “do overs” in Judaism.  It’s called: next year.