So it’s Yom Kippur Sunday night. Always a rough time for your humble blog author.
Ask anyone who knows me: I love food. Love, love, LOVE food. I love the smell of hot food coming out of the oven, whether it’s chicken parmigiana, lasagna, steak, whatever. I love the first bite of a dish prepared out of the kitchen of a restaurant, when you’ve had 20 minutes to wait and anticipate and build up expectations.
I’m not going to go all Frank Bruni on you here, but you get the point.
I eat constantly, pretty much every few hours., so much so that when my wife or my in-laws asks who’s hungry, they don’t even wait for an answer from me. Because they know the answer is always yes.
“Of course I could eat!” I reply. It also annoyed my sister and others throughout my life that I could eat crap and not gain weight; I had my mother’s metabolism, thankfully. (Of course, now in mid-30s I eat much healthier than before and actually am gaining weight. Just the other day a guy in my adult tennis league, who hadn’t seen me since May, told me that “it looked like I put on some pounds” over the summer. Seriously? I wanted to say. But I digress).
Anyway, so me and food, we’ve been in a longtime, loving relationship. Except for once a year, we have a violent, 24-hour breakup. I don’t look at it, I don’t touch it, I try not to even think about it.
They call it Yom Kippur, the Jews’ Day of Atonement. Apparently we don’t eat or drink from sundown to sundown, and our sins are washed away.
(Have you heard the great old Jon Stewart joke about Yom Kippur? “You don’t eat or drink for one day and all your sins are forgiven . BEAT THAT!! Beat that with your “Lent” . . . what’s that, 40 days? Forty days to one . . . even in sin, you’re paying retail!”)
I’m not really a practicing Jew; I don’t go to synagogue regularly, at least not since my Bar Mitzvah 21 years ago. But for some reason, I’ve always observed Yom Kippur.
I try to be a good person; I don’t think I commit too many sins (I run a few red lights, accidentally have backed into other cars in parking lots, commit the occasional grand larceny, that kind of thing), but I still feel that it’s important to spend one day a year, cleansing your body and soul.
It’s tough, though, I gotta tell ya. When I was a kid, it was no big deal. I remember the big “breaking fast” meal over at the Lipton’s house every year; family and friends got together and noshed on bagels and lox. Time just flew by like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters back then.
Now, especially when Yom Kippur bleeds into a work day, those last few hours are rough. No water, no morsels of food can pass my lips, and by 3:30 p.m I’m pretty much running on fumes. I start dreaming of what I’ll have for dinner around, oh, 1 o’clock or so.
But you know what, I survive every year. My people have been doing it for thousands of years, so what’s one day, right?
To anyone else fasting out there, I say good luck and if I can offer only one piece of advice, it’s this:
Try not to pass any bakeries or pizzerias Monday.