Why I Don’t Fast (aka What Being Jewish means to me)

I don’t fast on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is about repenting for what you’ve done wrong. For apologizing for all you’ve done wrong and it’s not that I don’t apologize after all, I am THAT girl. I apologize to tables after I bump into them. I apologize for things that I never did.  I apologize for pretty much everything but on Yom Kippur, I don’t apologize at all and I don’t fast and I’m sorry….damn.

edit:Although, I have been trying to apologize less this past year.  It’s been tough but I refuse to keep apologizing to others for merely existing.

I know people, many people who are deeply religious and who do follow tradition and fast and pray but I also know some people who are bullies and yet take this day to repent for all they’ve done wrong and they don’t apologize…at least to me…and even if they did, I’m not sure I’d accept it.

In the past year, I’ve had peers call me some pretty despicable names and I’m not sure why and I’m not sure I will ever know why, nor will I ever care. I’ve had bullies come after me with such force that it left me cowering in corners or curled up on my couch in tears with nothing but a bottle of wine, a bowl of mac and cheese and reruns of Friends to comfort me. I’ve been threatened and dumped and ostracized and those are the same people who today, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, will be repenting and asking for forgiveness for all their wrong doings. That does not make sense to me as I am still hurting while you’re off repenting so that you can feel better, I am still left wondering why you had to hurt me in the first place?

edit: When I first posted this, I got death threats from members of the Jewish community and as a result feel rather unsafe attending Jewish events due to the amount of hatred I received.

So how about we don’t do wrong things? How about we treat each other with kindness and understanding the struggles someone might be going through? How about apologize to me for calling me pathetic or spreading lies or calling me out on Facebook. Explain to me why it was necessary to dump me because someone else decided to no longer be kind. Isn’t kindness more important than taking one day out of the year to repent and post statuses on how we are so sorry? I read some of those statuses, some of those notes and they all seem so fake to me. How does one random note make up for whatever you’ve done the other days of the year and if you knew how your actions made that person feel, would you still do it? If you knew that the person you wronged, shook uncontrollably and could not stop crying because of what you said or did…..would you have done it in the first place?

I am an apologizer. I will apologize to walls if I stubbed my toe walking into that wall. I will apologize for the Israeli-Gaza conflict. I will apologize to people who have their shopping cart blocking mine in the grocery store. I will apologize if someone bumps into me or if I have to ask someone to do something for me. I will even apologize if I took the last of something but I will not apologize on Yom Kippur.

What does Ellen say? Be kind to one another. Understand that everyone has issues. Everyone is going through something. Every single one of us is walking through a storm, through pain and heartbreak. Every single one us is suffering through something and why add to that by being cruel, by threatening people, by harming them with your words. I won’t forgive cruelty. I won’t forgive people who made me cry so much that I could not wear make up for an entire week because it kept coming off in a weird colorful, eye shadow-tear mixture. I will not forgive someone whose words were so harmful they drove me to eat my feelings after losing 48 pounds. I will not forgive you for those things. If you tore me down, if you dismissed me, if you treated me like anything less than a person, if I apologized for things you did to me–and I’m sure I did–then I can’t. I can’t forgive that. I can’t understand how anyone can just dismiss someone as worthless or send them horrible emails that read like the words of an angry teenager and then just because you fasted and repented on one day, all is forgiven. It’s not. I may apologize for everything but I can’t forget the hurt and the pain.

Some asked me once what being Jewish meant to me. I’ve been told that because I don’t follow all the traditions and I don’t know Hebrew, I must not be Jewish or I don’t care about my Jewish Identity. This is wrong. I do care and to me, being Jewish means being kind every day of the year. It means apologizing right away, explaining my voice and trying to understand the motives of people. It means being friendly or buying a homeless person a meal even if they yell at you and say they wanted money instead. It means that even if you don’t follow every tradition, even if you have a love of lobster rolls that runs deep, even if you do not know Hebrew, you still love, you still want to treat everyone you meet with respect and kindness and then on Yom Kippur, you don’t need to worry because you were a good person.

Now, I’m not going to say that there haven’t been things I’ve done that I did need to apologize for and I have apologized for those things…..but there are people out there that I feel owe me an apology, that owe me an explanation and not a Facebook post, not a day spent praying and fasting, a real, heartfelt apology because I’ve already given mine even if I felt I did nothing. There are people that are in services today or are fasting who have cut me so deeply and hurt me so badly, yet I know I will never get an apology from them. Fasting and repenting does not make it okay, it does not make the pain you caused another person vanish. It makes them wonder where their apology is?

So if the question is, what does being Jewish mean to me…..it’s quite simple:

Being Jewish means…..being kind every single day of the year. Even when the world around you is pissing you off and when someone wrongs you, let them know that you did not appreciate whatever it is they did instead of attacking. That person may have no clue what they did and to blind side them with hatred makes no sense. So be kind and treat people like they matter and not like they’re beneath you in someway and never judge because everyone is fighting a battle….and I will also not apologize for this post…..sorry…..damn.


One thought on “Why I Don’t Fast (aka What Being Jewish means to me)

  1. Baruch Hashem

    I am a rabbi and I do agree with you. If I grewup thinking that Judaism is all about being a good human being 24/7 365 days a year. For this you do not have to be Jewish, for this you can be a gentle! All humans must be good 24/7 365 days a year.

    I noticed G-d is missing in much of your discussion, but I totally understand. Many today see wars, barbaric killings, zero open-mindedness, cults, Heaven/he’ll talk and who needs a G-d when this what all we see. Trust me, I would not want G-d in my life if this is all I know or saw.

    But Judaism is so much more. Judaism is about transcendence. A pathway to connect to G-d. In fact Judaism’s teachings are the basis of much as you think. If not for the laws of Kosher, the laws of pain to an animal, who would of taught and transformed the world towards treating animals properly.

    Just as from Judaism, Christianity picked and chose what the like and created a religion for their end result they desired. You have done the same. You pick and chose what you want to live by for your end result. I applaud that you take from a great source.

    But Yom Kippur isn’t about fasting. (To many it is all about the food, because you must have a big party feast prior to Yom Kippur, and a huge party to break fast. This is the secularization of Judaism…. It’s all about the partying, and most sit bored at services). I grew up seeing holy people who took Yom Kippur seriously. These people showed me how you can transcend, and truly change your life for the next 364 days.

    You are a beautiful Jew, like many who struggle what is true Judaism all about. At least you write and speak out with your frustration. But I appeal to your open mind, please contact me, or walk into any Chabad House (which has become the fastest growing places for secular Jews like you).

    There is much misinformation out there on what Judaism is, I would pen the same if I didn’t learn from the original sources which are the true backbone of your belief system.

    I believe there are only two types of Jews. Practicing Jews and Potentially practicing Jews. Many out there have so much Potential, if only they knew more.

    Please continue being open minded, and continue writing; all I ask is, if you learn something new and exciting about your faith, share that with your followers/readers etc.

    G-d bless you,

    Rabbi Mentz

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