Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Very interesting conversation with J last night, about Yom Kippur.

The Day of Atonement, a fast day (this year, Monday 2nd October) is probably the most important day in the Jewish year. It's a day of prayer and reflection on your relationship with your fellow human, and your creator. So lots of people who don't "do" anything Jewish, might well take the day off, go to synagogue, fast. Or some might just do Kol Nidrei (the service the night before).

I grew up in a place where everyone did it pretty seriously, to some degree or another. However, I do remember V's dad who, sure, sat in shul all day, but he'd had a book cover made that looked exactly like a machzor, and he'd sit and read some trashy novel.

I remember, aged ten or eleven, getting really frum, and wanting to do everything properly. There are lots of dinim (laws) around Yom Kippur, and I wanted to keep everything. So I had a white dress (customary to wear white) and I wore trainers (customary to not wear leather shoes). I remember the then shul president saying to my dad, "I can't decide if it's anyone-for-tennis or your daughter's a real frummer."

Who knows. Although my backhand is lousy.

Anyway, over the years as my experience of the Jewish world and world in general has expanded, I've come across people who go to work but fast, people who do nothing, people who stay home and read Leon Uris novels, people who go to shul and then have lunch. It takes all sorts.

Working in New York in the early nineties, I sat next to a lovely Brooklyn woman who told me, the next day, "I had such a headache by eleven, me and my friend went out for core-fee." LIke I said, it takes all sorts.

So what was interesting last night is that J grew up pretty secular-Anglo-ish, although is now pretty involved (although, probably, wouldn't describe herself as frum). I grew up pretty traditional/frum. Who knows what I am now (conversation 73).

So J was all "I can't beleive they're going to work on Yom Kippur, it's unforgivable. I told him. There's always an important meeting, you have to choose."

And I was all, "they should do whatever they want. Everyone's a different place on their Jewish journey. Maybe they'll do it another year."

I've been wondering if our reactions are a reaction in themselves against how we grew up, or whether (more likely) we're just different people with different narratives.

Anyway. Interesting. Or not.

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