What is it about the Holidays?

Well, Chanukah and Christmas are over for another year and I’m sure I’m not the only one for whom this season triggers many memories.

Christmas wasn’t a holiday we celebrated when I was growing up, we didn’t have a tree or exchange gifts, but we certainly got into its joyful spirit. Ours was a close family, and we spent just about every day and evening together for that week. Good times, good food and much laughter is what I remember.

Like all kids, I looked forward to being out of school for a Continue reading

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Day 51. Solemn Holiday

“And this shall be a law to you for all time:  in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall pain yourself and do no work at all…For on that day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all that you have done wrong — before God you will be clean.”  Leviticus 16:29030

So it is described in the Torah. 

Today is Yom Kippur.  Actually it began last night, at sunset; and it continues until nightfall, tonight.  For Jews the world over, it is the holiest day of the year.

Yom Kippur is the day when we are supposed to fast, and spend most of the day in synagogue, in intensive prayer.  The day we atone and ask for forgiveness, for all the wrongs we have committed against God, and each other, during the past year.  The hope, at the end of the day, is that we’ve been forgiven.

For many, Yom Kippur is the only holiday they observe, the only time they go to synagogue.  It is that significant. In fact, fasting and abstaining from work of any kind, are only a part of what it means to observe Yom Kippur.  We are also not supposed to wash, bathe, use cosmetics, deodorants, perfume, etc. Technically, we’re not even supposed to wear leather shoes.  And, needless to say, sex is on the forbidden list, as well.

Why?  So nothing distracts us from ‘contemplation’.  This is a day of contemplation, thinking of and acknowledging our wrong-doing; and praying for forgiveness.  To truly ‘reflect’ we have to Continue reading

Day 42. Sweet Year

Technically I shouldn’t be sitting here, blogging right now.  I should be in synagogue, because it’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (now 5773).  The holiday started last night, at sunset, and it ends tomorrow evening, at nightfall.

I’m home by choice.

While I am spiritual (much more so since my trip to India), I am not particularly ‘religious’.  I never have been.  I am not an ‘observant Jew’ and don’t therefore, follow the laws, like keeping kosher, for example.  It is, in fact, the ‘laws’ that have always been the issue for me.  I am fine with ‘traditions’, but have a problem accepting that a set of restrictions and obligations must be observed, even if the reasons for them are no longer relevant.

So, to my mind, for me to go to synagogue one time during the entire year is hypocritical.  So here I am, at home.

When I was little my parents, who were not religious either, did give me a chance to make up my own mind.  They joined a synagogue and took me to the High Holiday (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) services for several years; until I said I didn’t want to go any more, actually.  They asked me if I wanted to go to the regular Saturday services.  They told me that I could go to Continue reading