My First Yom Kippur Experience
I had my first Yom Kippur experience – atoning for my sins…and it was interesting and spiritually challenging. I fasted, I went to Synagogue…and hopefully I’m cleansed now. God knows I haven’t done a formal confession since…I was Catholic, so since I was 18. So that’s a huge pile of sins I brought along with me. Yom Kippur is the most serious of all the Jewish holidays. I learnt that one the hard way, cause last year on Yom Kippur before I had converted and only had a vague interpretation of what Yom Kippur meant, I made inappropriate jokes (unknowingly)…and then ironically (or not) I had a really tough year (like not the calendar year, but Jewish year). This year I was jolted into the seriousness of Yom Kippur. You come before God, admit that you’ve been an a-hole or d-bag on occasion, apologize and seek to be forgiven and blessed in the New Year.
I found my mind wandering a lot…and my bf said that’s natural, even encouraged. I thought about Joan Rivers for some reason. I kept thinking I should try doing standup again. Maybe I will. I really admire and respect Joan Rivers and it’s interesting that the moment I felt so lost in my thoughts, I gravitated towards her memory. I guess Joan Rivers paved the way for female comics and what I really respect about her is that she was also a mom. Most female comics that I can think of are childless – Ellen, Chelsea Handler. But Joan Rivers balanced being a mom and a comedian. That’s pretty inspiring. & I’ve often wondered how do you balance a creative career with family, particularly as a woman? Well, Joan Rivers did it! And she did it well, so maybe it is possible. I love what Joan Rivers did for the world and for women. Even if this standup thing doesn’t pan out for me, it still makes me happy that Joan Rivers did what she was able to do. Anyway, those were some of the random thoughts that penetrated my psyche.
We also spotted Larry King in our synagogue. He looked so ordinary in real life, but maybe it’s because he came to Synagogue humbled, as we all did. No one is any better than the other on this day. We are all equally human and equally flawed. Maybe some more than others. I can’t imagine what kind of sins some of the 80 year olds I spotted could have possibly committed. But then again, who knows?
I lucked out this year, cause after converting the Synagogue I attend offers a one year free membership as a gift to converts, otherwise, there was no way I could’ve afforded tickets to the High Holy Days this year. The synagogues pack out cause most Jews who don’t ever attend Synagogue during Shabbat, make an effort to attend during the High Holy Days. That’s how important this day is — that Jews who don’t keep kosher or do anything else Jewish, still observe Yom Kippur. Hopefully, next year my situation will be better and I’ll be able to afford the $2.5K membership. But I’m thankful to the universe for finding a way for me to attend Synagogue this year. I think it was important for me to do Yom Kippur properly as a new Jew.
Anyway, I learnt an important lesson and it happened on Friday, right before the fast. I made a mistake at work, it was a creative misinterpretation, but against my initial will I took responsibility. My bad. But I only took responsibility with my words for the sake of keeping the peace, inside I still searched for ways to justify what had happened. By the end of Yom Kippur I took full responsibility from within. I was wrong. I made a mistake. It happens. But by taking responsibility, things are seriously ok today. So often we try to justify, make excuses for our mistakes, instead of just owning it, apologizing and moving on.
I really do sincerely regret any hurt I have ever caused anyone in my life…and I hope in the spiritual realm of the universe I am forgiven. It’s not easy trying to be a good person. But I learnt that it is easier if we just take responsibility for our wrongs. People are amazingly capable of forgiveness when asked. Taking Responsibility + Apologizing = Forgiveness. The formula is so simple. Imagine how many arguments and fights, even wars could be avoided by applying this simple formula. But then again, I’ve never seen governments apologize. haha. Though Nixon did weep on national television once.
Back on topic: So in the New Year, I forgive anyone who has ever hurt me and I equally seek forgiveness from anyone I may have hurt. Now here’s to moving on to a happy and prosperous New Year! Shanah Tovah!
As difficult as fasting was, in addition to almost a whole day spent in Synagogue, it was completely worth it. Initially, I found myself worrying about — well, can I make it through the fast without water or technology, if I can’t I’m probably not meant to be Jewish, but then during the final snippet of the service — I realized how powerful this grand confessional gesture was and how important it is to acknowledge our imperfections and to continually seek and strive to be better and rise above. We’re all guilty of something, but we’re also all worthy of forgiveness.