I will fast on Yom Kippur again this year. Not because I have to, but because I choose so. It is a family tradition since the passing of my maternal grandfather, Shaul Beker z”l.
I will fast and pray at the Dror Reform congregation in my neighborhood, and my daughter, Na’ama, will join me. No, she doesn’t have to, but she, like me, appreciates being part of a community that prays and chants and sings, women and men together, on this day. After the prayers, her father will take her to join her friends to play and ride her bike. And next year she will be free to choose where she wants to be.
I will prepare food for those in my family who do not fast, because a shared family space means each and every one has the right to live and be as they choose.
I will, again, shed tears during the Avinu Malkenu prayer, because 20 years ago this prayer pulled me out from an abyss of pain.
And I will dwell and reflect on what I have done, or didn’t, or should have done differently. I will mind, time and again, the gaps between who I wish to be and how I am, especially towards those I love the most. And I will mind, time again, the gaps between my values and my practices.
And I will break the fast, time and again, with my parents, in their home, and the first thing that will receive me at the door will be the light in my mother’s eyes and her warm “G’mar Hatima Tova” embrace.
I make a personal choice, time and again, how my Yom Kippur will be.
I will pray this year, time and again, in my own way, not to the Almighty, but to a private and very personal presence of spirituality and compassion, of deep humanity that is in the soul.
And this year, when Yom Kippur and Eid al Adha are celebrated on the same day, I will wish all my Jewish and Muslim friends who observe a meaningful holiday, one to be shared with family, friends and community.
And I will ponder on the proximity between the sacrifice of Ishma’el and that of Issac, and how we, the humans of this world, are obligated to celebrate the sanctity of life, and challenge the culture that sanctifies the sword.
G’mar Hatima Tova and a blessed Eid al Adha.