Confessions of a Yom Kippur Slacker: I Never Fast

I think about fasting every Yom Kippur. Thinking is as far as I usually get. I grasp the concept of fasting and how it can make our minds open to more self-reflection. But no matter how hard I try, 24 hours without eating is just not possible. Some days, spending even a few hours without a snack is intolerable.

It is not just about the grumpiness that accompanies my hunger. There is dizziness, near-nausea, and a frenetic, temporary personality style that annoys anyone within five feet. I once consulted a nutritionist who prescribed more protein and regular healthy snacking. And yet, no bona-fide reason excuses me from fasting each Yom Kippur. It is my choice. Call me a Yom Kippur slacker.

I annually attend break fasts, usually at a fellow chorus member’s house and join in the sighs of relief as we are surrounded by food aplenty. Because of singing in several services, I generally will have skipped an afternoon snack, so by my definition, I am beyond ravenous. And yet, what about those who truly fasted? Should they not get the first place in the food line? Am I a hypocrite for even coming to a break fast? I go because I treasure the company of friends. Few of us share notes on whether we fasted.

Maybe since fasting is so tough, I should find something else to give up on Yom Kippur.

Possible Yom Kippur Fast substitutes:

Starbucks Iced Chai Tea

  • Venti Non-fat Iced Chai from the local Starbanks — oops, Starbucks.
  • Reading the morning newspaper.
  • Checking email, Facebook, Twitter, any Internet site.
  • Grande Non-fat Iced Chai.
  • Caffeine in any form, especially chocolate.

    Suat Eman photo,

For me, it is a change to even contemplate fasting. In my childhood, my family never attended High Holy Day services. We had apples and honey at the table to mark a sweet Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah. None of us were observant. I am a neophyte to my own religion in many ways. I celebrated my adult bat mitzvah in 2006 – four years ago. I am starting to mark Shabbat in my own home with my husband and toddler. Only during the last decade have I regularly attended High Holy Day services, usually as a member of my temple chorus. My journey closer to Judaism is in constant flux. Some day, I may try to fast again.

So now that I’m confessing, what about you? Do you fast each Yom Kippur? If you do not, what might you give up instead? Or if we call ourselves Yom Kippur slackers, should we just accept what we are and move on?

Note: Per agreement with free digital photos, here is the link to photographer Suet Eman’s portfolio:

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3 Responses to Confessions of a Yom Kippur Slacker: I Never Fast

  1. Don says:

    Hi Linda,

    I stumbled on your website while viewing George Foote’s LinkeIn contacts. What a touching and thought provoking post on HHD fasting — I’m looking forward to reading all your others.

    BTW, Rabbi Brown sent me the text of her erev RH sermon on Israel, in case you’d like me to forward it to you.

    All the best and may your name be sealed . . .
    Don (Detweiler)

  2. Anne says:

    I am relieved to see your blog, although this is probablynot your intended result. I do fast, and I hate it and get no spiritual benefit whatsoever. I too feel ill and faint and headachy and weepy and unhappy, and am so miserable I cannot even begin to contemplate teshuva. And each year my fast gets shorter and shorter. Last year I made it to 4 pm. But now, reading that there is at least one person out there who doesn’t fast… I am feeling a bit emboldened. Maybe this year I’ll stop at lunchtime.
    Shana Tova

  3. Linda says:

    Thanks for your comment. That my post had an effect on a reader would be my only intended result. I’m not trying to create a no-fast movement. For me, it just hasn’t been something I’ve been able to do. Maybe someday. But now, no.

    Though, by virtue of singing in our chorus, I end up not eating for many hours longer than normal. I wish an easy fast to those who do make that choice.

    Shana tova,

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