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The Schmooze

The Yom Kippur Fasting Experience, As Told Through GIFs

Yom Kippur begins just before sundown this Tuesday, September 18, and ends after sundown on Wednesday, September 19. In the course of the day you may pray. You may sing. You may prostrate. You may book end the experience on one side by swinging a chicken, and on the other by immediately and enthusiastically building a small wooden hut. But, unless you have a medical or psychological reason, you may not eat.

We give you: The Day of Atonement: GIF-Edition.

It’s the day before Yom Kippur and you’re feeling pretty smug. You’ve prepared. You’ve reflected. You hydrate, confident that you will own this holiday.

You start thinking — really? No water tomorrow? None at all? You read something about electrolytes once, so you buy some Gatorade.

Your mom was right! Gatorade shall be your secret weapon! You consume all the Gatorade in a 4-mile radius.

You go too far.

Dinner time! No need to overdo it — it’s just one day, after all!

It’s so easy to get up and go when you don’t have to stop for breakfast. You should do this all the time! In this economy, efficiency may be our most powerful asset. Perhaps you have stumbled upon the simplest of diet techniques — just don’t eat.

Services this morning seem to have a lot of stand-up-sit-down action. What’s the most respectful way to send a rabbi a New York Times article about the health risks of exercising on an empty stomach? Is that something she’d be receptive to after the holiday?

Interestingly, you’re not hungry at all. It’s possible you’ve never been hungry. It’s possible the human body doesn’t need food to function. Food is for the weak. By the end of this day, you are going to be hashem’s emergency contact. This is going great.

A little boring, though. Hmmm. You’ll just page through some of these books that are lying around, full of the story of your people! What a great time for loving learning. You feel full of energy.

Wait, why are you thinking about sandwiches?

Haha, that’s funny — you actually can’t stop thinking about sandwiches.

The sandwiches are reminding you of other foods. You want to eat all the foods together in one big pile.

Good news: Services are over and you’re no longer hungry. You’re asleep.

You can’t remember a time when your body had energy and did tasks like lifting or walking. Some horrible fiend person (your good friend from shul) suggests that you go on a walk between services.

Really — she thinks it would be a fun distraction to coordinate body movements, moving upright from the place you are to a different place, even though every part of your body feels like it’s made of bowling ball material.

The afternoon rolls on. Why does the whale get to eat Jonah but you get to eat nothing? Why did God create humans, only to treat us worse than whales? Questions like this persist.

Why do you ever waste food? Why are you never grateful? You’ve been given so many half-crumbled, old Nature Valley bars in your life, yet you cast them away like they were so much filth. Why? Why did you do that?

Suddenly, you really are sorry for the things you’ve done. Hunger falls away and you begin, sleepily, to really reflect.

Twilight is falling. The chazan is singing El Nora Alilah as the last rays of sun slant through the sanctuary skylights. You’ve transcended hunger. It’s a new year, a new slate, and an amazing feeling. You’re not thinking about food, you’re thinking about peace.

And then it’s over.

Actually, it hurts to shove a carbohydrate down your throat after 25 hours of nothing.

The best solution is just to sip a little wine.

And then you’re done. And full of resolutions — about treating other people mindfully, about gratitude, and also —

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny





    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

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