So, it's the High Holy Days for us Jews. Last Wednesday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish "New Year," and this Saturday is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As a dedicated "Contrarian" Jew, I have not attended services with our local congregation because once they became large and organized enough to hire a rabbi, rent a space, and hold regular services, they began to charge membership dues. I don't like the idea of having to pay to belong to a religious organization, so I quit.
I now mark the holidays with my own ritual, baking challah, the traditional Jewish egg bread. During the high holy days, it is made in a circular shape, to symbolize the circle of life (all sing, "It's the Circle of Life...") The idea is that between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Book of Life is opened, and God decides whether or not your name gets written inside it for another year (cue Jeopardy music...) During this week, Jews are supposed to reflect, pray, and atone for their sins so that they can begin the new year fresh. At the end of the week, the Book of Life is inscribed and closed, and you better hope your name is in it!
You're also supposed to fast on Yom Kippur until sunset. I, however, get really bad migraines if I don't eat, so I go to my parents' house on Yom Kippur and pay my dues by suffering that way! After a day of providing my opinion on whether the beige or the cream lamp goes better with bedspread and nodding with sympathy as Great Aunt Beverly gives me the details of her back surgery for the third time, I'm about ready to convert to Catholicism, but then I'd have to stop using birth control, so I quickly dismiss that idea!
Besides, as my husband (who's a lapsed Catholic) and I have discussed, Jews and Catholics are basically the same. Both religions are based on chicken soup and guilt!
L'shana tova (may your name be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!)