I’m secular. I got married without the Rabbinate’s stamp of approval, I eat shrimp, I don’t kiss mezuzahs or the beards of Kabbalists and I ride my bicycle every Saturday morning, during prayer time. I think that God is fiction produced in the image of man in order to provide moral authority at ancient times, in the absence of an effective cultural-social codex.
However, I’m also a great fan of faith. I’m touched to see Jewish fire burning in one’s eyes, admire charity and especially one offered secretly, fully believe that pure prayer could move mountains, and cry like a Hassidic Jew during the Kol Nidre prayer. I also regularly fast on Yom Kippur.
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Why? Because I’m in love with the collective purity that is so unique to this day. I go out to the balcony on that rare moment where the road clears of the hustle and bustle of cars and is filled by children. I then kiss my children’s heads with secular holiness and whisper “Chatima Tova” in their ears. I take a last sip of water, and wholeheartedly embark on some suffering.
I do not do it because this is how I was educated. I do not do it because “I don’t believe in God but am scared to death of Him,” as Yair Garbuz once said. I also don’t do it because I think that 24 hours of hunger will help me score some points with the master of the universe. I actually do it because of free choice. Based on a desire to be part of a critical mass of people who decided to devote themselves to inner purity on this special day.
I’ve been fasting for years now – simply because I can. If sick people and diabetics and the elderly and those suffering from ulcers or heartburn fast on Yom Kippur, who am I to chew? I fast because it’s unpleasant for me to pull a piece of cabbage stuck in my teeth when worshippers pass me on their way to the synagogue.
I fast because my parents fast, and this way I can almost touch them, even from a great distance. I fast because this is the only Jewish Holy Day that does not glorify various kinds of food, but rather, their absence. I fast because of an idiotic need for my children to be proud of their father.
I fast, and this is the truth, because I know that in our country I shall have to go on a hunger strike one of these days; I don’t know for what cause yet, but I better be prepared for it.