Are we ‘shoulding’ all over ourselves? A Yom Kippur Tome

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Like many Jews I am not very observant …not by most standards. I know of the holidays being brought up by observant but cynical Jewish parents, went to Hebrew School, got married under a chupah (yes I tried) and went through the motions on all holidays at synagogue; waiting – waiting- patiently waiting to feel it. Never happened.

I am not an Atheist. I do believe in a higher power, a universal life energy that goes beyond present understanding. My partner and I do light candles on Shabbat – rarely – but we do it. We are full paying members of an LGBT friendly and affirming Reform Temple and my three appearances a year there reminds me that so many others seem to know what they SHOULD do.

Today at the gym (all gay men go to the gym on Friday – it’s the law like going to the mikveh after a period) an older Jewish gentleman that I barely know waived his finger at me at said, “Remember, no food tomorrow” Something inside me clicked and I snapped back, “Don’t wave your fucking finger at me…ever!” I know that it was rude and crass, but in that moment I was shutting the door on my parents who taught me to do as they say, not as they do, my Hebrew School teachers who had no idea how to teach much less convey what their brand of Judaism was about, and all the finger wavers in my life that have told me what I “SHOULD” be doing on Yom Kippur.

I am a good Jew.

I believe that we should leave the world a better place. I understand “Tikun Olam” – literally fix the world. I believe people can make a difference in the world by treating others with respect and not doing to anyone what you wouldn’t want done to you.. – but – to many, I am not a good Jew – at least in their eyes. My sexual orientation that I was born with, my distaste of Orthodox Judaism, my global world view of spiritual acceptance do not sit well with many. I am an openly gay Jewish man with a husband. I believe that the Bible/Torah was and is a bunch of fairly tales meant to teach lessons, like snapping a dog with a newspaper.

So tonight I will go to Kol Nidre, I will sit next to my husband, and we will chant and occasionally hold hands. Tomorrow I am NOT fasting, I am going about my day as any other day. It’s sparring day at my Karate school.

I am a good Jew.

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