It has been 40 years (or thereabouts) since I fasted on Yom Kippur. I was 15 years old when I followed my father, Lazer, and became a committed atheist. I am an atheist who believes in ghosts, nature, witchcraft and the supernatural. This is not a very Jewish way. Over the last 40 years I have wrestled with what it means to be Jewish as an atheist and anti-Zionist. There isn’t much wiggle room in between those two fixed unmoveables. I feel like I am Jewish, even though, at 55, I am still in rebellion. I can’t explain what makes me Jewish, and honestly, mostly, I am uncomfortable with it. I have absolutely nothing in common with the Jewish community of Cape Town, and they don’t love me much either.
And yet, something drew me to fasting this year. I have had (as we all have, but mine has been triple, trust me) the worst year of my life, pretty much on every single level. But one thing I have done is be alone, and I have had time for introspection. And a day of fasting seems like a good way to solidify that, cleanse, focus, stay away from the ‘usual’ Monday noise, and take time out to further reflect on my own behaviour. I have created some horrible patterns I am keen to break. I default easily into certain emotions. I want to visualise my near future, really think about the things I am sorry for, and try to imagine how to be better and do better at the human and humanity side of things.
Yes, it is only 10am and so far all I have is a caffeine withdrawal headache and grumpiness, but I know I will feel different later. To all my Jewish friends, I wish you well over the fast, and clarity, and humility going forward.