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A goal made this Yom Kippur

September 25, 2012

Disclaimer: This post is quite deep and/or personal, so fair warning to all.

Before I left for Italy, I went with my parents to Shabbat services at our synagogue in Overland Park. I thought it would be a good idea to be connected with my faith before I went through what I assumed would be a life-changing experience. I think that is pretty telling of my relationship with my religious beliefs. I connect with them when I want to express gratitude, like that I had this opportunity to go to Italy, and when I want to feel safe and protected, for I was about to go to Italy.

I identify with my Judaism and feel connected to my faith, especially during occasions like my Bat Mitzvah and when I sit with the congregation at the rare Shabbat service I attend.

That’s the thing though – those occasions are rare.

Tonight, what I have read is considered the most important holiday in the Jewish religion began at sundown. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, the day when the Jewish people come together and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs committed during the year. It is a day of self-examination that has been observed for hundreds of years. There is a connection that is felt on Yom Kippur in knowing Jewish people around the world are commemorating Yom Kippur in the same way – that same way that generations of Jewish people long ago commemorated it too.

I don’t really talk about religion with people. It’s a personal topic, yes, but I also feel pretty ignorant on the topic. I mean, I know how I feel, but I don’t really know the background on all the beliefs of all the religions of the world. But this year on Yom Kippur, I have decided to set a goal for myself: I want to become more connected to my faith in this new year.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to go to services every Friday night. It by no means says I’m going to start keeping Kosher or adopt conservative or orthodox customs. It doesn’t mean I’m going to become a rabbi or switch my major to Jewish studies. It does mean that I am going to start learning more about Judaism and about what it means to be Jewish and about the history of the Jewish people.

I have long conversations with myself sometimes – conversations about being comfortable with my decisions, maintaining a happy lifestyle, impacting the people in my life in a positive way, staying true to myself and keeping the important things in mind (everything else is olive oil). Basically, I have deep conversations with myself. In the shower. On the floor. During walks home. Before bed. I think about the world and the people in it and my place and my purpose in it. Yes, they are conversations with myself, but I don’t think that’s all they are.

I don’t want to get very religious in this blog post because I don’t think that would be appropriate (but as I am putting it out there, feel free to talk to me about it), but I think these are the times I know I am being protected and I am getting the advice I need and that things happen for a reason and everything works out. Like when I sit in a synagogue and read the prayers in Hebrew, I feel an indescribable goodness and connection.

As Yom Kippur begins, I reflect on my life. I decide that perhaps next year, I will be in synagogue on this day.

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