Friday, October 10, 2008

Repentance and redemption

Yesterday was Yom Kippur. This is the day when Jews around the world atone for our sins and make our peace with God. It is the day when we, as a community, ask forgiveness for all of the ill deeds that we may have done. No one needs to repent alone, by repenting in community we all share each others burdens. At the end of the day the Book of Life is closed - God decides who will live and die in the coming year, and we all move on, knowing we have done our best to start with a clean slate.

I am not a particularly observant Jew. I wasn't raised with much of a sense of what it means to be Jewish beyond the recent history of the 20th century. My parents are the children of immigrants, this is a common pattern - the children of immigrants often shed their past while the grandchildren of immigrants long for it. Somewhere in my late twenties I began to wonder who I was in the context of my history, this included what it meant to be a Jew. It's been a circuitous journey with many (I don't want to call them diversions) branches and adventures. It's not over yet. Like most real adventures, there is no real end point.

The journey brings me here, to this day. I went to a temple I'd never visited before, said prayers in a language I don't know, held the hand of stranger as she was moved to tears.

At the end of the day I was reminded that I am part of a larger community, even if it's one I don't always agree with - this community in particular fosters thought and disagreement (two Jews, three arguments). I am ready to face a new year with hope and optimism, a sense that my slate is clean and with the knowledge that I have helped shoulder some of the world's burdens.

May the new year bring you blessings and hope. May it do the same for us all.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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