To Fast or Not To Fast…

September is chock full of pumpkin spice lattes, leather jackets, the changing of leaves, and Jewish holidays. Just last week we were ringing in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, with apples and honey.  As someone who loves food, I’m not afraid to admit that the Jewish holidays clearly revolve around eating. Not that I mind gathering with my larger-than-life family — we use megaphones to say the prayers and eat mass amounts of matzo ball soup with Maneschevitz on the side.

Last year, I wrote a survival guide to Yom Kippur. This year, I decided to take a different approach to a sorostitute’s favorite Jewish observation. I decided to do some research since I got kicked out of Hebrew School before this lesson (sorry Mrs. Greenberg).

For nearly twenty-six hours from sunset to nightfall the next day, we “afflict our souls.” In order to seek God’s forgiveness, we do not eat food or drink, wash our body, rub any lotions, wear leather footwear, work, or engage in “marital relations.” Spending most of the day in synagogue, we pray. This holiday is considered one of the “High Holidays” and therefore, is deemed most important to Jews of any level.

Yom Kippur is all about atoning for our sins since Jews are not really down with confessionals. There are two festive meals before the fast begins, and five prayers: Maariv and Kol Nidrei are on the eve of Yom Kippur, Shacharit is the morning prayer, Musaf is an explanation of the Yom Kippur Temple service, Minchah is when the Book of Jonah is read. The fifth and final is the Neilah or “locking” prayer.  Then after the Holy Ark where the Torah sleeps is closed, the shofar is blown and the “break fast” meal begins.

Now please continue reading if you Jews cannot decide, to fast…or not to fast — yes, this article just got all Shakespearean on you.

Not to Fast:

  • You are extremely sick, and/or elderly
  • Take medications you must eat with
  • Preggers, or are a baby
  • Have extreme mood swings
  • Should not drink alcohol on an empty stomach
  • Cotton mouth that never goes away
  • Finding a parking space is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack
  • You are in a Coma
  • You are a practicing Catholic.

For me, Yom Kippur is a time when my diabetic brother (he needs insulin a lot) and I (medications you must eat with) head to our favorite diner with our grandmother (elderly) while my parents are roughing it out in temple.

To Fast

  • You need to lose two pounds in a day
  • You’re religious
  • It is becoming trendy and all the rage
  • You and God need to mend your relationship
  • You want to fulfill a Mitzvah
  • You want to connect spiritually with yourself
  • You like the sound of grumbling stomachs
  • You for some reason have to wear a bikini in the fall
  • REM, not the band, but Repentance, Empathy, and Mastery are three main reasons for fasting
  • Get out of school, and I mean if you are going to faint somewhere, it might as well be in temple where all the Jewish doctors are conveniently located

So remember, no body lotion, wearing uggs, hugging anyone of the opposite sex, or chocolate cake! See you all next time, when we build the Sukkah, which is a hut you stand under…or something.

Please visit here for information about Yom Kippur services at Penn State this week.

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