i have been feeling a stronger connection to my jewish heritage lately. i have never had any religious faith in judiasm, and in fact currently i would best describe my religion as athiesm and self-belief. lately i am more interested in ritual as it relates to a sense of self and a connection to community. for me, jewish traditions play this role in my life.
the past two years living in madrid i have come into a group of jewish friends and together we put on seders that can't be beat - and which have been instrumental in developing my own sense of jewishness. maybe it is only when we make our parents' traditions our own that we really become adults. far from my family and with no partner or children i have friends, and through them i have interpreted my jewish heritage in a way that feels correct.
i have always loved seders...i like the idea of a group-led religious service in the home. celebrating and praying with family, telling stories of old traditions and making new ones has always seemed a very vital practice. not to mention the value of taking a long time to have a meal: in america it can require the formality of a religious service to keep people seated at the table for longer than twenty minutes.
last weekend my new roommate, who is also jewish, suggested having a rosh hashanah dinner on friday night. i agreed, mainly because i like dinner parties, but i realized that i hadn't celebrated the jewish new year since i was a kid. i like having special nights to celebrate, away from the normal holidays.
so in keeping with the high holiday swing, i'm thinking of fasting for yom kippur - the jewish day of atonement. rather than confess every week, jews group it into one day. one day for mourning, atoning, and perhaps repenting. and fasting. i like the cleansing aspect of this ritual, and despite the fact that i have to work on monday - which is against the rules - i would like to fast, to reflect. and, thanks to my new jewish roommate, i've been invited to a break-fast dinner! bonus!
i'm interested in feeling connected: to myself with the feelings of reflection and hunger; to my family by participating in a tradition; to other jews who observe the fast on yom kippur.
today's question: do we ever really atone, or just make ourselves feel better?