Yom Kippur Reflection

As the sun begins to set on Yom Kippur 2016, my thoughts quietly turn to the holiday observances of my childhood. I can smell the sweetness of simmering pot roast through out the house making my belly ache with hunger. We never did entirely fast, my mother always said she couldn’t for health reasons so a small meal, the occasional nosh, the sips of broth was allowed. We attended service to have our sins forgiven and usually broke the fast with a shared holiday dinner with my parents closest friends. Solemn at first, always joyful by nights end. I don’t remember at what age we stopped attending Temple on Yom Kippur to miraculously have our sins forgiven, but I do have a vivid memory  I took it very seriously. I must give forgiveness to get forgiveness, I must right the wrongs of the past year. It was quite simple what was required. How the meaning of Yom Kippur in our home went from observed as the highest of holiest holidays to virtually non existent before I left home has given me much to think about through the years. I have always clinged to some thread of what I consider my childhood Jewishness.

This year I am reminded of a memory of something my mother instilled in me, whether truly or through the retelling of the story over and over but it went something like this…. the year must have been abt 1960/1 or 62 and I was 7, maybe I was 8, I think in about 2nd/3rd grade. Prayer was still said in school. We stood, we folded our hands, we bowed our heads and said something…a prayer to Jesus, to God, I am not sure but I do know this was a pre curser to

Engel v Vitale, the Supreme Court case brought by a group of parents in the New Hyde Park School District, Long Island, New York that ruled it unconstitutional to require a state required prayer. My mother supported this crusade and was very involved in it. She must have prepped me because I do remember getting into trouble and ending up in the principals office with my parents being called. On this fateful morning when it was time to bow our heads and pray I refused and boldly told the teacher when she demand why I wouldn’t that ‘my mom told me we don’t have to bow our heads and fold our hands to pray, we can just look up into the sky and talk to G-d whenever we wanted to.

This evening as I sit home on this 2016 Yom Kippur I am thinking about all those that came before  me, their hearts bowed preparing for the Kol Nidrei, the procession of the Torah scroll, my great grandfathers Samuel Haimowitz  and Benjamin LIpshitz , I think about my great great grandfather Selig Rosen, his whole life a Hebrew School Teacher…reflecting, cleansing their souls in preparation to face the coming new year.

yomkippur

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15 years ago I located my birth family, both maternal and paternal side. After literally years of searching, even before the help of the internet, I just couldn't stop searching so I began digging into my new found families past. The journey has been amazing as we connect and reconnect lost and found generations.

7 thoughts on “Yom Kippur Reflection

    1. Diane-you knew my mom and dad so I am sure you can hear her prompting me 🙂 Remember when my dad chained himself to the tree in the front so they wouldn’t put a sidewalk in? Precious are our memories!

  1. This is a very moving post. Do you know why your parents stopped observing the holiday? I grew up in a totally secular home and never celebrated the holiday as a child. I feel very fortunate that my husband introduced me to Jewish ritual and observance; it has now been part of my life for over 40 years.

    1. Hi Amy~I think the reason was 2 fold, my parents went the path of higher education, my Dad his Doctorate and Mother head of library at Hofstra University and other librarian endeavors…their world was very secular; my father a staunch atheist till the end; the other reason I have heard is that at one point they could not afford the synagogue dues one year and were not allowed to attend till they could afford it and that was a large factor. My parents were very involved and since my dad was an artist as well he did all the sets for some of the huge productions the Temple put on, like the King and I etc….funny you ask this question because so much memory comes flooding in…like the Cantors name, Cantor Lewis who was a close friend, in fact I was given a bird by him and his wife, the birds name was Petey….gosh I am 63 and this memory must be from at least 55 years ago, anyway, if true they weren’t allowed to attend this must have been a crushing blow to them.

      1. Sometimes I am horrified by the things synagogues do to people. I’ve heard other stories like that—turning people away over dues. I can’t blame your parents for being turned off by organized religion after that.

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