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Top 10 Reasons I Don't Fast on Yom Kippur

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Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism. On this "Day of Atonement", one reflects on his or her sins over the past year by partaking in a 24-hour period of fasting. What this basically translates to is a hunger strike that is imposed on you by the faith you were born into, married or eventually chose as your own. It's kind of like being in prison without food or water, without the prison.

The fasting period begins at sunset this evening.

While I have tremendous respect for those who take it upon themselves to starve for an entire day (which should in no way be confused with people like Victoria Beckham, who apparently thinks she is Jewish and that it's Yom Kippur 365 days of the year), I reserve my right to avoid this practice like the proverbial plague. Because hey, if it was written into some religious law to jump off a cliff or partake in a plague for a day or two each year, would you do it? Would you? Just asking.

As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I often asked my parents why we didn't participate in this annual act of self-denial ritual, and was given the same response each year. "Your family starved enough during the Holocaust and the war, and no member of our family will ever look like Victoria Beckham starve again." Fair enough. But this was the same answer they gave when I asked the burning Passover question, "Why is this night different than all others?" or "Why can't I stay out past midnight?" Call me naïve a quick study. Or hungry. Or both.

As I grew into a somewhat mature adult, I began to see the wisdom of my parents' argument, but also managed to form some opinions of my own regarding religion and fasting.

Herewith, the Top Ten reasons why I refuse to don't fast on Yom Kippur:

Food and caffeine. I can't exist without them. Preferably administered on a reliable drip, like IV fluids.

Fasting is punishment. If I am to atone for my sins by thinking about or acknowledging them, who needs hunger pangs to interrupt me and get in the way of dealing with them?

Martinis. On an empty stomach, they make you say and do stupid things. I like martinis. I don't need to be drinking them on an empty stomach to say and do more stupid things than I already do when I have food in my belly. Capisce?

Bad breath. Fasting causes bad breath. I hate bad breath.

Moodiness. Fasting brings out the mean and ruthless in people. Hell, my dad is mean and ruthless when he's not fasting. Add me into the mix without food, and you're going to witness this in stereo and probably get a fight on your hands. Who needs more mean people?

Lethargy. If I'm going to tryptophan the light fantastic, there better be turkey involved. Just sayin'".

Do you have any idea how much those temple tickets (and the appropriate outfit) cost to go along with this whole idea of suffering? If I really wanted to suffer, I'd be married.

Parking spaces at temple. Damn near impossible to find. You'd think it was Costco on Christmas Eve.

Hypocrisy. Pretending that you are going to absolve yourself of being an a**hole the other 364 days of the year by being "really good" in the eyes of snooping, suddenly holier than thou, one-day-a-year Jews checking out your jewelry the lord by "atoning for your sins", is about as ludicrous as expecting to go on a diet and lose the 50lbs you gained last year over the course of one day. Not happening.

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Patricia A. Smith is a writer and artist (and sometimes both at the same time). A former columnist, restaurant critic and cruise line executive, Smith has lived in London, Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Egypt, Costa Rica and France. She returned (more...)
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