1 Oct., 2020

It’s a couple days after Yom Kippur.

Now, it’s not as though Yom Kippur is a fun day, and in my particular case, it’s especially unfun, because when I was 22, an aunt of mine, to whom I was very close, was murdered right around the high holy days. So I get a lovely remembrance of things past along with the blast of the shofar.

The only thing Yom Kippur has going for it is that you can pass it in entirely in the synagogue, saying prayers, and some of the most beautiful liturgy happens on Yom Kippur. The liturgy is so intense, that I forget I’m fasting; I just get caught up in the prayers, and suddenly, it’s the afternoon, the fast is 3/4 of the way done, and I’ve not even been aware of it.

This year, my shul conducted the services over zoom. As though logging onto a computer is in any way conducive to celebrating a “Shabbat shabbaton.”

I really had every intention of doing it anyway, of logging on, but at the last minute, I couldn’t. So I was abandoned to my living room, saying prayers alone, and reading from a chumash by myself.

Anyway, got to reading the Yom Kippur haftarah, Isaiah “[T]his is the fast I desire: …share your bread with the hungry….” Fasting isn’t about sitting around being unhappy, but is a time for going out among other people and doing something for them.

Tuna in a pouch, crackers, fruit cup, pudding cup, cereal bar, chips & power bar. Vitamin fortified, and non-perishable.

I had a lot of non-perishables left from Purim, because normally, for Purim, I take sack lunches of non-perishable items around to homeless people, but COVID-19 hit right last Purim, and I didn’t get to give out everything I had. The stuff has just been sitting, not perishing, in boxes in the closet. I checked the expiration dates, and none of it was anywhere close. It all had at least a year left, and some had almost two years.

I put together a dozen sack lunches, put them in a backpack– really, a rucksack, and handed them out. There’re always homeless people at the highway exits, and at the medians near major chain stores; I live fairly close to several of both. Because I didn’t want to drive on Yom Kippur, I probably walked 5 or 6 miles. Yes, I know carrying violates Yom Kippur as much as driving would, but who knows if a meal for someone isn’t pikuach nefesh?

The Yom Kippur fast includes water. You are not even supposed to drink anything, but I’ve long been exempt from that, because I find that if I get dehydrated, my blood sugar drops way down (I have reactive hypoglycemia), and I can’t make it past about noon without food. If I drink just the shiur in water (the minimal amount allowed to people who need to eat or drink something), I can make it the whole day without food.

For the long walk, though, instead of water to hydrate, I used this drink I had left over from when I had surgery a couple of years ago. It has 28 calories in 12 ounces, 7 grams of protein, and some vitamins— B complex & C. I dumped in a tsp of powdered, 0 calorie, electrolyte mix in each bottle. My blood sugar stayed around 90 the whole time I was out. That’s good. Last year, I had to stop fasting early, because my blood sugar dropped to 38 around 4pm.

I handed out all the lunches, then went home and fell asleep. That was my high holy days miracle. I fell asleep and stayed asleep for almost three hours. Without medication.

I feel bad about missing Hineni, but our cantor doesn’t walk up through the congregation singing it anyway. At my previous congregation, all the HHD stuff was covered by volunteers from the congregation, and the woman who always did Hineni did it so beautifully, walking up through the congregation. Most years, it made me cry. I usually get to cry a few times on Yom Kippur—at the Holocaust memorial, at Yizkor. Sometime my eyes well up just during the Vidui prayer.

I’m not a person who cries, normally. I need an occasion, or permission, somehow. Yom Kippur gives me permission– it’s my big chance to get out whatever has built up over the year. Seriously. I will cry on Yom Kippur as many times as I’ll cry during the entire rest of the year altogether.

Didn’t cry about anything this year. Not the missed services, the miracle of the three-hour nap. Not about COVID, and the whole reason I spent Yom Kippur home alone, nor the entire state of the world. Nothing.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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