Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Flight


Yom Kippur came and went, with its dizzying fast and its 10 hours of synagogue services (you read that correctly), and afterwards the communal break-fast at which we discovered not three, not five, but a total of eight different kugels, a wealth of kugels (nothing like a heavy starchy noodle pudding to bring you solidly back from the sacred to the everyday).

Each year, the Day of Atonement is a strange mixture of sad and joyful, heavy and light, boredom and uplift. Your body drags in the late afternoon, your stomach grumbles, and by the ninth hour if you are human, then you are cranky--but the songs, the prayers, the sharp notes of the shofar can sometimes have the power to force you through your physical discomfort to a good place, dare I say a godly place--

During my best moments in synagogue, my soul was light--like this runaway kite, escaped from the hands that held its string, flying higher and higher toward an approaching storm--

and then it was all over for another year, and there was the kugel waiting stolidly, patiently for us to land.



and p.s. don't forget to visit my contest, below!

40 comments:

Karen ^..^ said...

I love your posts about your faith, because it does seem as though you love it, unfailingly.

When I was a young catholic girl, I read a series of books called "All of a kind family". I loved these books so much. They explained Judaism so well to a young confused kid who was assured that anyone who was not catholic would definitely be going to hell.

I devoured those books again and again. I tried to get K2 into them, but she wasn't having it.

She's not the reader that Kathryn and I are. If it doesn't have a horse in the story, she wants nothing to do with it.

I remember seeing the glaring differences between this adorable fictional family and my crazy upbringing. They seemed so happy to me, so unconcerned with going to hell. Meanwhile, in my family, we were always screaming, angry, chaotic.

And Catholic.

Hmmm...

Leah said...

Karen, those are some of my all-time favorite books! They are right up there with Laura Ingalls Wilder for me, especially because they made me feel good about being Jewish, when I was little. I adore them. And you may have noticed, I named Hedgehog for my favorite character.

It's incredible these meeting points we keep discovering, isn't it?

Jaime said...

8 kugels? wow. i would have loved to be at that meal.

Ronda Laveen said...

Kugels? Never mind. I though you wrote kegels.

MJ said...

Same as Ronda.

And I thought...a total of eight different kegels?

Who knew there were so many variations on the exercise?

nick said...

That soaraway moment sounds good, much like the transcendence and satori of Buddhism. Hopefully you feel renewed and reinvigorated and free of a few mental cobwebs.

Hmmm, opera gloves. I think I could fetishise those very easily....

Pat said...

I love those rare moments 'when my soul is light.'

willow said...

Beautiful. I love hearing about worship, faith and tradition.

California Girl said...

my girlfriend's grandmother used to make us potato kugel and we loved it. been a lonnnnng time since I've had any and I do not live near any delis! miss the corned beef too.

Happy Yom Kippur!

savannah said...

lovely! it is inspiring to read of a faith lived so fully, sugar. xoxoxo

Betsy said...

Very nice take on 'flight'. I haven't flown a kite in years.

Baino said...

Kugel's good . . I am fascinated about the tradition associated with your faith though.

mago said...

Time flies ...

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Hi Leah,

I find it encouraging when people share the relationship between faith and their life. Faith to me seems to be a quiet walk; a sojourn for this present time.

While reading your description of how the body hungers, I wondered does the spiritual man in me hunger like that?

I do enjoy reading your blog.

U

Brian Miller said...

i love that moment in worship when you are taken from where you are to a whole other place...the kite flying is a great image for that...happy landings.

Leah said...

Jaime: there were some incredible delicious kugels there. I think I sampled five out of eight! Sweet and savory, noodle and potato. You name it, it was represented on the long table.

Ronda and MJ: I'll bet that in the boring parts a fair number of women were practicing their kegels in shul!

Nick: it is about transcending the mundane, just as in Buddhism. Especially on Yom Kippur. And the funny thing is that the fast is to help you get to that point--it paradoxically frees you from your body even as it makes you more aware of it. I don't know how that's possible, but it is somehow. Fasting helps achieve transcendence.

e said...

I think I have something residual going on from all of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services and activities. I am very tired today...

I thought this post was wonderful.
I hope you have a great year ahead.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Yom Kippur! I love the site of the kite, a sort of communication with the 'other. Well done.
-Jayne
ps- Thanks for the vote of confidence!

subtorp77 said...

Leah, what Baino said( tho' I've never partaken of the Kugel ).

The lost kite does well with this :)

The Unbearable Banishment said...

You Jews are smart. You do all your atoning on one day. Catholics have to constantly visit confession. You guys do it wholesale. We still pay retail.

Wings said...

:)

Gonna check out the contest, below...

VE said...

Faith is definitely a flight...

Liza said...

Wow, this is a beautiful post.
"During my best moments in synagogue, my soul was light--like this runaway kite"
So perfectly poetic.
Thanks for sharing some of your sacred space. Happy tt.

Tom said...

a kugel! that's new to me. One thing i miss most of my childhood is kite flying...i must take some time next year and go fly a kite!

Poetikat said...

I seem to remember "All Of a Kind Family" too. I MUST have read that! (Thanks for the memory-jog, Karen.)

Leah, I shall never again complain about the Good Friday fast. The kugel must taste amazing by that point, does it?

nick said...

I know what you mean about fasting. On the few occasions when I've fasted I've found myself in a kind of transcendent state pretty quickly. Very pleasant it was - until gnawing hunger set in and I had to eat.

Colette Amelia said...

no knowing anything about nothing about the Jewish faith...but a little something about blood sugar levels...is this good for you? I mean in the physical way?

thanks for enlightening us!

Old Knudsen said...

I find yer off-shoot of Christianity very interesting you should never shop for food while hungry but enlightenment is another story.

Its funny the modern use for words like breakfast, eve and holiday.

Leah said...

Pat: those are some of my favorite moments too. Then again, sometimes I just feel like sloughing out in front of the telly with a bowl of popcorn... ; )

Willow: thanks for your comment. I always debate about whether religion and my feelings about God and prayer are too private for blogging...but then I say, heck with it! I'll do it anyway...

California Girl: corned beef and potato kugel, food of the gods!!!

Savannah: thank you sweetie pie. I am more and more aware lately about how my religious practices can affect Hedgie for the positive--and that alone is enough to inspire me to try.

Betsy: we discovered how much we like kite-flying when Hedgie was a toddler. We do it quite often, but that kite in the photo got away from us!

Baino: Jewish tradition and practice is quite complex. I've been learning it over a lifetime and I still have another lifetime of learning to do!

mago: indeed, time flies. I feel it every year when I sit in synagogue. The prayers and liturgy are the same, but another year has, amazingly, passed...

Leah said...

U: I know I'm repeating myself, but I really enjoy your comments here. And I do believe you've made a good point: the physical fast is intended to help you discover what you hunger for spiritually.

Brian: I love that moment too. It doesn't happen all the time, sometimes not even in a whole morning or evening of services. But when it does, and it takes you by surprise, it's indescribable. Prayer is hard to give words to, so the only way I can talk about it is through metaphor.

e: a great year to you too! I have a High Holy Days hangover of sorts, as well. It's just so intense. Have a lovely Sukkot as well!

Jayne: you put it nicely--it felt like a "communication with the other" in hindsight--maybe even a little at the time, watching it soar like that.

Subby!!!: you've never tasted kugel? Well, you must, sir, you must! There are so many different kinds, I'll bet there's one to suit you.

UB: you totally made me laugh. Wholesale repentance! It's good, isn't it?

VE: it is a flight. I hadn't thought of it in that metaphor before I wrote this post, but it is, it really is.

Liza: thank you so much! It means a lot to me to get feedback like that, especially when I let it all hang out like I did with this post...

Tom!: yes, you must try kugel and you must fly a kite. Not necessarily at the same time though!

Kat: I will actually go so far as to suggest rereading those books--they're so good! And yes, the kugel really really hits the spot after a fast. Something about its homely squishy starchiness is perfect for the very hungry!

Nick: light-headedness contributes to the ethereal feeling!

Colette Amelia: I think the fast is okay for us, as it's only sundown to sundown. In Judaism, the elderly, the young, and the weak or ill are completely exempt from fasting. In fact, if you are susceptible or weak you are definitely not supposed to fast.

Leah said...

Old K: when a tiny band of dissatisfied Christians left Christianity to form Judaism, they took with them all the kugel recipes as well as the frizzy hair, chopped liver, and overlong worship services. In exchange, they left the Christians Jesus and ham.

I'm really not sure who got the better end of that one.

Dakota Bear said...

Thank you for sharing your experience of faith with us.

Candie Bracci said...

That was a beautiful take on the theme Leah,the flight of your soul!Nice post!Have a great day!

P.S:10 hours?!:)

Pam said...

I have lived a kugelless life.I am a kugelignoramis.I learn a lot here, though, even factoring in faith, I doubt I could wait ten hours to meet your much anticipated and, to me, curious kugel.Seriously though, it sounds a lovely time and I do enjoy learning about much here that I am unfamiliar with. Have a great weekend Leah.

Cinnamon said...

*laughing at Pam's comment 'kugelignoramus* -that's me as well!

Enoyed your post Leah :)

Madame DeFarge said...

I enjoyed this post enormously. Not something of which I have any experience, but the way you write about it makes it sound very appealing.

lettuce said...

I like the different kinds of lightness and heaviness in this post

Dreamhaven said...

wonderful post. A great glimpse into a long standing tradition.
I think I might check out some recipes online.

Karen ^..^ said...

I WONDERED about that!!! Henny was my favorite. I loved them all, really. The story about Sara having to stay at the table till she choked down the tomato soup has stayed with me for my entire life.

But I LOVED Henny. She was such a badass. LOL.

My love for these books has unfortunately never spilled over to my kids. I may order them all and read them again. I read them over and over when I was a kid. I wanted to be Jewish so badly back then. It just seemed to me that Jewish people loved their kids so much more than Catholic people (at least in my little world, anyway)

muralimanohar said...

Oof. I *loved* All In the Family. I reference them in my mind when trying to remember Jewish traditions, too. :p Have to say, you speaking of your Seder house, brought to mind those books. :p

Am I remembering right, and you fast only on water? Or was it no water, either? My path has three fast days a year, from Midnight to Midnight (well, that's if you can't hack any more..otherwise, best to go til you wake up the next morning), and it's recommended that you fast only on water. But juice is allowed, if you can't do it on water. And, we have the same rules about who can fast, too...except we include pregnant and bf'ing mothers, too. My ds won't ever be able to fast, thanks to his diabetes.