Did you fast this Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is over, but discussion on the fast continues online. Two articles in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper this weekend presented differing opinions about whether someone secular should fast on the Day of Atonement. Neither author believes in God, but …

Yom Kippur is over, but discussion on the fast continues online. Two articles in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper this weekend presented differing opinions about whether someone secular should fast on the Day of Atonement. Neither author believes in God, but their approaches couldn’t be more different. Taking the side of the non-fasting public, Uri Misgav says as a non-believer, fasting would be hypocritical, but he insists he is not secular, which he characterizes as a “narrow definition referring to lifestyle alone.” His actions certainly sound secular, though, as he brags that he also “did not circumcise my son.” “Am I Jewish?” he asks. “Certainly. I was born to a Jewish mother and I feel belonging to the Jewish people, its past and heritage.” Amos Shavit takes the same argument about “belonging” and turns it on its head. He fasts, he says, “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.” He also fasts to connect to the past – “because my parents fast, and this way I can almost touch them, even from a great distance” – and to connect to the future: “because of an idiotic need for my children to be proud of their father.” Shavit says “I do it because of free choice.” Misgav wants choice too: “I was born and I shall die a free man.” A recent survey by Gesher and Ynet found that 58% of the Israeli public fast on Yom Kippur. 50% visit a synagogue at least once during the holiday. So, how about you? Did you fast this Yom Kippur? Please enter your vote in the talkbacks to this post and let’s get our own debate happening on the pages of Israelity.

About Brian Blum

Brian has been a journalist and high-tech entrepreneur for over 20 years. He combines this expertise for ISRAEL21c and Israelity as he writes about hot new local startups, pharmaceutical advances, scientific discoveries, culture, the arts and daily life in Israel. He loves hiking the country with his family (and blogging about it). Originally from California, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.
  • http://benjamin-levy.blogspot.com/ Benjamin

    Fast? Oh yeah, sure. We were going really fast on the on ramp to Route 471, freaky fast.

  • Ira Skop

    What struck me more than fasting is how many people don’t drive. In Jewish Jerusalem, nearly everyone (nearly 100%) doesn’t drive. I know this but I experienced it hands-on when I had to drive Friday night – contrary to my (religious) practice – to the hospital, for an emergency (mother-in-law fell, taken to ER, is luckily okay). At 9pm I was the only car on the road, with the exception of police vehicles. We weren’t stoned by religious people, but we were yelled at by non-observant teens who were highly offended that we would be driving (“lo nos’im b’kippur”).

    Why? I mean why is not driving on Yom Kippur so sacrosanct? Why does it mean so much to the non-observant population? I’m living in this country just a little over 5 years and still adjusting to the local habits. This one always surprises me. By both contrast and comparison, my brother attends a Conservative shul on Long Island where everyone drives to shul on shabbat and chagim and parks in the shul’s parking lot. On Yom Kippur, davka, they close the lot. So the dutiful shul-goers, many of whom attend every shabbat, drive to shul and park on the surrounding streets. That, I understand.

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  • http://www.TorahTime.blogspot.comwww.TsiyonBound.blogspot.com SueJean

    I’ve only been observing the fast for Yom Kippur since 2006. This year was the first time for me that I didn’t spend the entire time thinking about what I was going to eat when the fast was over. It was also the first time that I actually enjoyed the fast and it seems like my entire attitude about it was completely changed. I came away with a much stronger sense that I had done something meaningful.

    One problem that I did have with the fast this year was related to the high level of noise in the area where we now live. There’s a lot of traffic noise and construction going on during the day. This definitely was a drawback as I could feel the increased level of stress in my body. I had to work to maintain a sense of inner quiet to combat the noise. I’m sure it’s a huge blessing to be able to observe Yom Kippur in a place where it’s respected as a holy time.