Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yom Kippur rant

..on Rosh Hashanah, it will be written
and on Yom Kippur, it will be sealed..

I hate Yom Kippur.

There...I said it.

Sitting far, far, far back in the synagogue yesterday (actually I was technically sitting in the social hall that is attached to the synagogue), barely able to see what was going on on the bimah, feeling hot and confined and uninspired, I realized once again: Yom Kippur just doesn't do it for me.

As I listened to the long list of communal sins, and to the rabbi speak about how we have all sinned this year, and how we need to think about the year that passed, and pledge to do better in the next year, all I could think about is that this year has been one of the most difficult of my life, and that while I was in no way perfect, the main thing that happened to me was entirely out of my control. And I highly doubt that G-d pointed His/Her finger at me and said: "thou shalt have breast cancer." I just don't believe that it works that way.

The themes and images of Yom Kippur don't work for me. First of all, I can't fast. I have tried for many years, but it makes me physically sick. I simply can't do it. So one of the main things that you are supposed to do on YK is out of my reach. Secondly, the thought of G-d sitting somewhere writing in a book that says what will happen this coming year, and the thought that praying on Yom Kippur can somehow change what it says...that idea doesn't work for me. I simply don't believe it.

Usually, I am able to gloss over my disbelief, and just go along with the program. But this year, I wasn't able to.

Add an energetic and "bored" 10-year-old boy to the mix, and you have a perfect storm for a pretty awful day.

P.S. I took a quick look out there on the internets, and apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way. Although there are others who had a good Yom Kippur experience this year. So it just goes to show you...there is always next year.


Unknown said...

In honor of the high holy days, I've passed along an award I won to you (really hope this award thing isn't a scam, because boy are these awards a lot of work!). You can pick up the blog award on my site at www.mommylite.blogspot.com.

I've really enjoyed your blog.


Karen said...

I also thoroughly enjoyed your rant. I can't fast either -- I can't risk getting a migraine.

My best Yom Kippur moment? Sitting outside the temple, alone, in a beautiful white tent full of white plastic seats (empty after the teen service), with the wind blowing. A woman walked in -- she had also escaped from the never-ending service -- and told me that the tall carved ark in the tent had been made by her husband the year our synagogue was founded.

It was a really nice moment!

Aimee said...

Ha! I love this post. I could not agree more. I actually do fast every Yom Kippur but it doesn't make me feel like my fate will be sealed any more positively than the next person!

Great blog. =)


christina(apronstrings) said...

Yeah, I don't buy the God sits around and decides our fate crap either. I'm not Jewish-and know very little about YK. But the God determines crap part bothers me just like you.
I do think you had a craptastic year, I don't think any God would write that in some magic book--because you deserve better.

Danielle said...

I've been following your blog for awhile and just had to comment. I've felt this way about Yom Kippur for years, it's nice to hear someone else say it out loud. I coming out of othe worst year of my life also and couldn't even face synagogue this year. 17 months ago we delivered boy/girl twins, my daughter is a healthy, thriving toddler, my son was stillborn. It's hard to sit and listen to lists of sins when you think about how you try and live a good life and then go through something like that. I also don't believe that God did this to me, but at the same time I can't imagine he's sitting up there with a pen and a book and deciding who deserves to be inscribed for another year. I admire how you've maintained your faith, the last year has severely tested mine. To confront one of life's greatest joys, with life's greatest sorrow is not an easy task.

Bonnie said...

I thoroughly agree with each of your points, have felt this way for a long time, and it feels so good to see it in writing (your writing). Though I feel so for you and Danielle; that adds a whole other layer of complexity to things.

RivkA with a capital A said...

I also have a tough time with Yom Kippur. Who can sit in shul for so long?????

For years, I used to volunteer to help lead services for students in Israel with no place to go. Several times during the services, I would take a group out of the main sanctuary, and lead a beginners service, including explanations and answering all sorts of interesting questions. It was a great solution for me, because I had a "good excuse" for missing part of davening.

It's been a long time since I had that excuse, and I just cut out and sleep when I needed to. But as my kids got older, I felt I should try and be in shul for them.

But they get bored too. And, what can I say, I get it. My husband does too (and he's not even ADD).

I am always amazed that there are actually people who get really into Yom Kippur.

If the davening is good (meaning: singing the melodies I remember from my childhood), I at least enjoy the prayers.

Ironically, cancer has made Yom Kippur easier for me, because I have to drink. So I don't get sick from fasting anymore.

I don't feel guilty sleeping late and skipping Shacharit (yes, I have the cancer; chemo makes me tired, I have to sleep) and I am not sick from fasting, so I can really concentrate when I actually do daven.

Still, it's most definitely me least favorite holiday. Though I REALLY like the food that my family traditionally eats right after the fast! :-}