I had a whole post written about this year’s Yom Kippur experience — how I assumed it would go. Spoiler alert: it was rough. I went to Kol Nidre services. Then I went to work where I had the hardest Yom Kippur of my life since I was, you know, actually working and not eating or drinking. Broke fast in the comfort of an edit room with all my coworkers during a last-minute meeting. None of them were fasting. All while J was hundreds of miles away, also working. And not fasting.
I really, really regretted it. Not the fasting part; fasting is something I choose to do for myself. But overall the experience. I did most of my repenting through the 10 days leading up. I talked a lot about what I want to do to make myself a better person this year and I let a lot of things that had been weighing me down for the past year go. But it didn’t stop me from feeling like spiritually, something was totally missing.
If I’m being honest, I am really hurt by J not fasting this year. He’s a healthy adult male. He was flying after working from 5:00 am so I’d get behind drinking water. But it was annoying that here I am, the person who isn’t bound to this fast by the tenants my faith, fasting. I was praying. I felt alone in Yom Kippur. And the person raised Jewish (who physically couldn’t go to services) was eating all day long.
J hates fasting. He hates everything about it. It’s uncomfortable, he gets a headache, he doesn’t exactly believe in any of it. For him, there’s no spiritual benefit to fasting. But hey, even Sandy Kofax wouldn’t pitch on Yom Kippur. Why risk it? Because even if you don’t believe it, you don’t really know anything.
Quite often, Judaism is a struggle for us during the high holidays. They’re in fall, our busiest time. J inevitably points out that he doesn’t really partake in Jewish religious life. I inevitably point out that he’s the one who wanted a Jewish home, Jewish life, and Jewish children. However, I can’t be the one to carry on Jewish traditions in our home. Ultimately, he needs to participate and understand them as much as I do even if we are an interfaith family.
J has always struggled with his connection to Judaism. Growing up, he was involved and was even confirmed. Both of his siblings are solid in their Jewish identities and practices as are their Jewish spouses. His parents remain involved in Jewish life. His grandmothers both are in their 80’s. And J just isn’t that. It bothers me that he wanted so badly to have elements of a Jewish wedding, he wants our children to be raised Jewish, but he wants the fun parts — and none of the work. When I decided to convert, him fasting was non-negotiable. If I was going through the struggles of giving up my faith for his, he could fast. But we’re one year out from that decision being made, which means we’re not as tied to that as we were.
In the past, we’ve broken our fast by going out to a great Italian place and having a good Italian feast. We go so often (in general) that the chef knows we’re coming for Yom Kippur. It is one of my favorite traditions. Following the customs of his culture, and breaking the fast with food from mine.
This year, we didn’t get to do that. One thing I want to do in the coming year is focusing more on balancing our lives and work. While I understand that there are going to be times when work might be a priority so we can afford things like our mortgage, utilities, and food. We need to get better at prioritizing things like our faith and each other when life calls for it.