Atonement Isn’t Just a River in Egypt

Around lunchtime today, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why Whole Foods was so empty. When I finally remembered, it was nice to realize how many practicing Jews still populate New York despite our ever-dwindling supply of Good Bagels.

On the train home, my bounty in bags around my feet, I thought about why I don’t observe Yom Kippur any more. The fasting part is obvious: I was anorexic for long enough that taking a day off from eating is like trying to smoke crack casually after years on the pipe. Even now I carry my extra 15 pounds around with a measure of pride, as proof that I love myself enough to tolerate my (vast) imperfections.

I suppose too there’s a feeling that this last year—the last four, really—has been a nonstop, involuntary period of atonement. Every day I pay the bills for which I’ve been delinquent most of my adulthood, literally and figuratively. Every day I amend for how I catered to my pettiness, my vanity, my greed, my fear, and my rage so long as I believed the world owed me anything but wonderfully impersonal love.

On this September 23, this autumnal equinox, this day of atonement, I also relish what is here to be relished. I eat apples, I drink wine, I have color in my cheeks. And I send courage and compassion to everyone, even me. Gmar Chatimah Tova.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy