Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Musings of an Unaffiliated Jew on Erev Rosh Hashanah

After more than twenty years as an active participant in a Reform congregation, I am about to begin my third year as an unaffiliated Jew.

This is entirely my choice. Darling Spouse is equally comfortable affiliated or not, and has expressed nothing but support for me in this decision. We've disagreed over whether or not I'll eventually go back. I say no. Darling Spouse believes otherwise, but the discussion is moot; I'm not ready to go back yet.

A word about Jews and community: Although there are many blessings and prayers that individuals (mainly orthodox) can and do say on a daily basis, public worship requires a minyan -- quorum -- of 10 adult Jews. To read Torah, to recite Kaddish, to hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah or Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur, Jews must come together in community. What could have so gotten to me that the community that succored and supported me for so many years became more burden than comfort? As with so many other things in life, the causes are multifactorial. Still, the break continues to be a relief; a time-out from a game I'm not yet ready to re-enter.

So how do I cope with the High Holy Days? Find a different community to join in the capacity of "visitor" just for the occasion? Fashion some kind of personal ritual to observe the New Year, the Days of Awe and the Day of Atonement? Or just ignore them altogether?

Frankly, I lean toward the latter, as I admit that a good part of my "break" is a form of rebellion. But some things are still too deeply ingrained to ignore: although I will work on Rosh Hashanah, I shall fast on Yom Kippur.

Darling Spouse, though, is insisting on a special holiday dinner tonight, the beginning of the Jewish New Year: roast chicken with all the trimmings, and a round challah. I'm looking forward to it, especially given the luxury of not having to rush-rush-rush around to get all dressed up in our holiday best and still get to synagogue an hour ahead of time for last-minute choir stuff. How relaxing, the prospect of leisurely dinner, with time to get the dishes done instead of having to leave them soaking in the sink until after services.

Interesting, isn't it: however you look at it, it's all about the food.


At Wed Sep 12, 09:01:00 AM, Blogger Bookhorde said...

I wish you a happy new year, however you wish to celebrate it. Peace.

At Wed Sep 12, 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Elaine said...

Hold yourself to the faith in which you believe, but do not feel obligated to follow the herd.

Peace and love.

At Wed Sep 12, 02:31:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

Like most adolescent boys of the faith, there was a time when I thought I wanted to be a Rabbi. Until I realized the whole shebang doesn't do a thing for me. I was actually part of a group of ten families that started a reform "temple" in our community a few years back. (It's now around 150, and doesn't include mine.) After months of meetings, interviewing part-time Rabbis, arranging to use the basement of a Lutheran church (it has it's own synagogue now), the first Friday night service approached. "Wow," I thought. "We really did it. It's the real thing: it's Friday nite, there's a service, I don't wanna go, and I feel guilty."

At Wed Sep 12, 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Sid Schwab said...

Damn. I hate that "it's -- its" thing; and I did it.

At Wed Sep 12, 10:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you use this occasion to vent and tell us more about your decision to disaffiliate. Go ahead. You'll feel better.

At Wed Sep 12, 11:59:00 PM, Blogger Keagirl said...

L'Shana Tova!
Having married into a jewish family, I also enjoyed a wonderful traditional dinner tonight with chicken, liver, challah and kugel, all courtesy of my mother-in-law. It is all about eating together as a family!

At Thu Sep 13, 10:04:00 AM, Blogger CrankyProf said...

Mazel tov!

At Thu Sep 13, 02:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jewish holidays are bad for script volume.

Seriously. :P

At Sun Sep 16, 09:04:00 AM, Blogger Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Having been raised Catholic, where missing Sunday Mass was a sin, I identify with how you are feeling.
But one of the things I love about Judaism is that it's centered in the home and not the synagogue.

There is a wonderful book called
"Jewish Family and Life" by Yosef Abromowitz and Susan Silverman that lays it all out so beautifully.

I often wish my husband were more religious so we could have more of a Jewish home, but he's just not into it.

But the FOOD...Mr TBTAM's mom is an amazing cook, and we celebrate the major holidays at her home, and I love it.

Happy New Year!


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