First, to everyone, Jewish and non-Jewish, I wish you happiness, health and prosperity in the year 5770 (or 2009-10).
With the Yom Kippur fast came a blogging fast. Both fasts have ended.
This Yom Kippur had bloggable moments, some profound and others, well, let’s just say that I have already started the list of sins for next year’s atonement:
Muslim-Jewish Greetings. A Muslim cab driver wished us health and happiness in our new year. And I told him that we hope that he had had a blessed Ramadan with his family. There is an advantage to living in NY. There are no territorial, ideological or historical impediments to honoring other traditions and religions. (We are cramped in this City, but for purely capitalist reasons.) I am a conscientious objector when it comes to religion (but not tradition), but I see G-d in these ordinary exchanges between individuals of different backgrounds. These seemingly mundane holiday greetings have transformative power, precisely because they were between Muslim and Jew.
Gay, Muslim and Palestinian. There was a gay Palestinian Muslim at our Yom Kippur services as a guest of our synagogue (we flew some GLBT Israelis here after the attack on a gay center in Israel, so they can feel a part of a huge community of supporters). Now, that is bizarre on so many levels. But closeness to community, to spirituality comes with the setting, not the liturgy. And, I know, I feel more at home in a mosque than in a church. The lack of iconography (i.e., no depictions of suffering Jews) and the Sephardic melodies are familiar to me. Spirituality doesn’t, I believe, require belief in a deity, or a particular theology; rather, a sense of essential goodness in (most) people who are inextricably tied one to another because of our inherent humanity.
A River Runs Through It. The rabbi reprised her Rosh Ha-Shanah theme of the colors of the river. It reminds me of when I tell a joke (or make what I think is a witty comment) and no one laughs. I assume that no one heard. I have to remember that everyone heard but no one thought it funny. So, the rabbi didn’t get that no one could follow her metaphor at Rosh Ha-Shanah, let alone ten days later when people are hungry and have caffeine and nicotine withdrawal. My head was pounding and all I heard was the light of the river, river, river, and whether we saw the light or not and whether we followed the changing light of the river, river, river. And I thought, I will wait until the light of the river is a major motion picture but please get to the part where the Shofar is blown and the fasting is over and the pounding in my head stops. The river, river, river made me dizzy, dizzy, dizzy, AGAIN. Torture comes in many shapes and size and pretexts.
Our Child, Our Oracle. Ok, so here is the best part of the whole Yom Kippur. Our son was prone to melt-downs this holiday season. Maybe it was his bow-tie or his blazer that caused a karmatic imbalance (although he was such a chick magnetic and he was in Heaven being kissed and adored by women old and young). So, we had to leave for a while (to relieve everyone from having to hear the meltdown) but PRECISELY because we wanted to leave, our son then wanted to stay. My partner asked him to rate his behavior in the children’s service.
Our 7 year-old responded, “Mommy, I was a complete ass.”
Parenting manuals don’t teach you how not to laugh and how not to applaud the razor-sharp analysis even though your child used “bad words”.
Choking back laughter and “bravos” for spot-on analysis, we told him those were not words that we used and his choice of language was not ok. His response:
“Mommy, I don’t think I am being brought up well. In good homes, children don’t say such words.”
Ok ok ok ok ok ok, it is Yom Kippur, and we are tired, cranky, hungry and our precocious child has laid down the gauntlet. My partner says something that adjourns the conversation, so that we can prepare for battle or, more precisely, litigation, with our 7 year-old. I have called in reinforcements.