Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Day Of Atonement

The holidays of TigerBlog's people came late this year.

As TB has said before, they never come on time. They're either early, or they're late. TigerBlog learned that as a kid, when every year, every time the Jewish holidays approached, some adult would say that they were early or they were late. Every year, without fail.

Today is Yom Kippur. It falls each year on the 10th day of the month of Tishrei, which varies from year to year on where it falls in either September or October. The earliest it can ever be is Sept. 14, and the latest is Oct. 14, so yes, it's a bit late this year.

It follows Rosh Hashanah by eight days in the Jewish High Holy Days. Yom Kippur is the most sacred day of the year for TB's people.

It means "Day Of Atonement," and it is basically what you'd think it is, a day of prayer and reflection to atone for one's sins of the previous year.

In addition to the prayer and reflection, Jews all over the world will be fasting for 24 hours as part of the atonement. No food. No drinks. For 24 hours.

It's a little different than Passover, during which for eight days Jews do not eat anything leavened, which essentially means no bread, pasta, cereal, that kind of stuff. It certainly brings up the question of which is tougher - one day without food or drink or eight days without dietary staples?

TigerBlog was asked by one of his goyish colleagues about what it's like to fast for 24 hours. Do you eat a huge meal beforehand? Nope, TB said. Just business as usual and then tough it out. You get a little hungry by the end.

Something that TB has also said before is that he is as Jewish as someone can be who has a son who graduated from a high school called Holy Ghost Prep and now attends a college called Sacred Heart. Still, he wouldn't dream of not fasting for his 24 hours for Yom Kippur.

As kids, TB, BrotherBlog and their cousins Paul and Janet would always see how long they could go before they'd eat. It was like a game.

As adults, it's much more serious. The Jewish religion is complex, with a lot of rules and traditions that TB won't pretend to know, but he does take this one very seriously. He likes to joke about it - have to get any last-minute sinning in before Yom Kippur, free to sin again after it - but the holiday is important to him.

Sandy Koufax did not pitch in the 1965 World Series on Yom Kippur, something MotherBlog would say to guilt her younger son into almost anything at any time of year. "Sure, you can do that ... but Sandy Koufax didn't pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur."

TigerBlog has been a part of Princeton Athletic events on Yom Kippur, mostly football games, but he has not eaten or had anything to drink during any of them. He remembers one year when he went to services at Brown before a game at Brown Stadium and saw a member of the Brown team there in his football uniform.

That year, by the way, TigerBlog broke his fast at a Wendy's off I-95 at sundown on the way back from the game.

If you've been reading TigerBlog for a long time, then you've heard some of these stories before. That's okay. It's part of the tradition for TB, to think back about the years gone by and his memories of the Jewish holidays, as a kid and adult.

The Ivy League considers itself to be a secular league when it comes to scheduling for athletic events. There are games on the major holidays of all religions, and TigerBlog has seen Ivy League athletes who have balanced their place on a team with their religious beliefs for decades.

Certainly the league can't schedule around holidays. Where would the line be drawn? Well, it's sort of drawn around Christmas, but if Christmas fell on Ivy League basketball and hockey weekends, then, well, TB isn't sure what would be done.

TB will back tomorrow and Friday, talking about, among other subjects, the great start in the league for the women's volleyball team and the incredible John Lovett of the football team. And where he'll be Saturday.

But that's for the rest of the week.

Today is the holiest day for TB's people. He is fasting to atone for his sins.

It's not easy to go 24 hours without eating or drinking, but it's worth it.

Plus, it's not optional.

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