Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: memoir

Post fast Reflections

I fasted well, thought things, took time out, made a vegan cinnamon bulka to break the fast. It was a win, although I should probably have baked it before and not during fasting.

And I got an email from a far away family member in response to my yesterday’s blogpost. He is somebody who asked with such perfect sincerity and intention about whether it is possible to be atheist and Jewish. Here is my response to him. I would love your thoughts.

“So this is my take. Nobody can tell you what you are, or why you are that thing. Being Jewish is complicated and I have struggled with it for my whole life. Rabbis have mostly not helped at all, because they have an agenda. I did once have a lovely conversation with the rabbi who visited my late dad in the week of his death at the hospital. They had fiery debates and the rabbi loved it. He buried Lazer with such charm and sensitivity.

I love Jewish funerals although I hate the sexism.
I am aware of Jewish privilege as I am aware of white privilege. I have benefitted from both of them (and continue to do so) my whole life, and I know that for me, what I have to do, is fight against racism and anti-Palestine Zionism (Apartheid) whenever and wherever I can. I identify with Jews like Joe Slovo, Ronnie Kassrils, Bernie Sanders (except for his blindness on Israel) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Naomi Wolf and Noam Chomsky.

I hate antisemitism as much as I hate anti-muslim sentiment.
So, in a nutshell, being Jewish is something I am, but can’t explain. I am not ashamed of being Jewish but I am very critical of the hypocritical Jewish community, particularly those who are all about money, and prestige and conservatism.
This is just me. I think you can answer some of this for you. Maybe you don’t want to be Jewish. Maybe you can’t help it. Maybe you love stuff and question others. Maybe there is comfort in your community and you even want to go to silly, singing shul for the connection to others even if it isn’t god.
What do you think?”

A Yom Kippur Fast

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.

The beginning of the dissection of my 2020

So here’s one of the things I have discovered. I had a great idea for this blog post. I was going to start a series of posts reflecting back on my year, but then I needed to walk the dogs. I was in a fog and didn’t even see a car before crossing the road. We all got a fright. Luckily it was a kind and empathetic female driver. She saw my state of unravel even behind my mask. While I walked I had a million creative ideas about how to start this post, what I would unpack, in order of importance, and how I would construct the series.

Of course, I got home, fed the dogs, took a call, got distracted by some news on social media that made me jealous and frustrated, sat down in front of the screen and could not for the life of me remember what I had intended to say in the first place.

Welcome to my year of good intentioned, totally dysfunctional rambling thoughts and feelings, multiplied by COVID, times by personal loss and mess, with the addition of no real career possibilities, subtracted by fear, refracted by insomnia, sidetracked by the quiet release of my first children’s book, heightened by isolation, punched in the gut by the loss of opportunity, prodded by what I saw this weekend, questioned by my political opinions, and strangled by a malaise that could be my age, but probably really isn’t.

That is not to say there haven’t been some diamonds in the dirt (although I have never understood the attraction of those hard, pretty, useless stones). I have shot a movie, written 15 short stories, published a children’s book, changed habits, cooked creatively (more in the beginning of lockdown than now), kept commitments, enjoyed international Zoom contact, rediscovered favourite walking spots, spent virtually nothing on petrol, and connected with some old friends in a profound way.

It is the middle of September. I don’t even know how to think about that beyond the fact that we are mostly through winter.

I have so much to do, change, remember, refocus on. But this space, for the next little while will be the beginning of reflection, if I can remember.

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