Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

Last night we went to the synagogue to be part of the Kol Nidre services. And today I was at the synagogue for a good chunk of the day participating in the Yom Kippur services. This prayer, Kol Nidre, has gotten Jews into trouble in the past. The words of the prayer ask God to forgive us and absolve us of all of the vows and promises we have made.

Non-Jews would say that Jews weren't to be trusted because they would break their word and be forgiven through this prayer.

The Jewish response was that the only promises that were intended by the prayer were promises made to God - if You help me get out of this mess I will say my prayers more regularly.

My sense is that neither of these are the complete truth. But then again I am not a Talmudic scholar.

So then why do I regularly go to the High Holiday services? Why do I fast on Yom Kippur? Tradition? not really. Because I have regularly done it over the years? I haven't done it over the years. Because my parents did it? My parents were less religious than I am.

I'm not sure why.

I do want to be in the synagogue whenever I can to say Kaddish and for the Yizkor services. But that is related to my need to stay connected with my Dad.

I think I go because it is the one time during the year that I need to make a statement that I am a Jew. I rarely go to any other service. And although I can perform the services and understand the prayers (thanks to all those miserable years at the Talmud Torah) I don't 'believe' and I certainly don't put much stock into the ritual. Although I must admit that I find the familiarity of the ritual comforting or at least familiar.

I go because I go. I go because I want my children to go - not to find the 'way' but to have something to hold onto as Jews - being Jewish isn't something you can get rid of so in some way, I think, a person needs to fgure out how to 'be' Jewish.

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