Today is Yom Kippur, the holiest of holy days in Judaism. It is a day of fasting atonement and repentance that is usually spent in shul. I’m not a religious person by nature, or at least one that feels the need to sit in a temple in order to feel like I have a sense of my religion. For my family, we observed the holidays, not by going to temple, but by getting together as a family and having dinner, being together, and talking about the things we were atoning for, and what we hoped for the coming year. My mother never pushed us in one way or another, and because of that my siblings and I all stumble around in various versions of religious belief. We love Hanukkah, will go to dinner on Passover (although that is more of an excuse to see our cousins) and will refrain from eating pork on the high holy days. We aren’t kosher, we don’t fast, and we don’t have shabbot dinners. We like to joke that we are “bad Jews”, but we are strong in the historical knowledge and I believe we practice in the heartfelt way that can’t always be found in a temple.
That being said, I am about to marry into a very very strict religious family. The observe every holiday (even a few I had never heard of), have proper Friday night dinners and attend temple regularly. They take the day off to observe (I went to class, did not fast for a full 25 hours, and wouldn’t even know where to find a shul in this city), are stick in their adherence to the laws (I’m not sure his mother would be so keen on my breaking the fast before it was time) and have a religious education that I lack. I don’t speak Hebrew, don’t know all the prayers for a proper Friday night dinner (Although I did spend a week memorizing them for a family dinner with all of David’s family) and David and his sister are expected to raise proper Jewish children. While, I want to raise my tiny humans to be Jewish, I don’t know if I want to deny them cheese on their burgers, or make them wait between meat and dairy courses. These things are silly and trivial, but I am in a silly and trivial mood. The coming year marks a lot of changes for me, and among those changes is learning to be more active in the traditional sense with my religion. I am not sure how that is going to go, but I am alone in a strange place, so now may be as good a time as any to learn.
All that being said, I have never felt the need to be around people of my faith than I have today. I have not meant another Jewish person here (in fact, more than once the Irish or Scottish people that I meet tell me that I am their first Jew when they learn that I am Jewish) and it is the first time that I am so far away from my family. The people I am friends with don’t fully understand, and there are a lot of jokes made at my expense. They mean well, and they are not being mean to me, but this week it would have been nice to be around other people of a like mindset.