I do not fast on Yom Kippur
for the same reason that I do not adhere to any religious mitzvah: I do not believe in God. I am not “secular,” because this is a narrow definition referring to lifestyle alone, and I’m not infidel either. I’m an atheist.
I do not believe in any form of higher or divine intervention. I only believe in human beings and in systems of values that are worthy of following while living life in this world. I also believe in progress and science. After thousands of years of human existence in the company of “God,” it appears reasonable to demand a single, minimalistic empirical evidence to his existence.
I can still address the existence or non-existence of God as an open question somehow. Yet in the face of religion I’m speechless.
At this stage, many of you will dismiss me with being “simplistic” – after all, generations of theologians convinced us that faith involves endless intellectual depth. Yet the truth is that there is no such science, theology. One cannot base a whole science on something that was never reinforced by evidence of actually existing.
Meanwhile, genuine, broad and well-argued atheism may be simple, but not simplistic. In fact, this kind of atheism is sorely lacking in Israel.
Am I Jewish? Certainly. I was born to a Jewish mother and I feel belonging to the Jewish people, its past and heritage. However, I am an atheist Jew. Nice to meet you. And let’s not stop with Yom Kippur. I did not circumcise my son. I object to the cutting of genitals for children of both sexes, with or without anesthesia.
I know you are infuriated with me right now. This is what I wanted. I want all of you, but mostly the “seculars” among you, to seriously confront your choices. The principle of “to each his own” is acceptable to me, as long as it means that a person may choose not to believe anything.
Don’t decide for me what to eat, when to fast and on what day of the week to travel by bus. I was born and I shall die a free man.