Where do I fit in with all of this religion?

The Jewish High Holy Days have passed once again. A time of introspection, prayer and pleading with God to let us have yet another year in this life. I admit that my theology may not be totally sound and my interpretation might be a bit skewed. I love being involved with my synagogue and attend services weekly along with a list of other activities. I do consider myself an active participant and find myself willingly there several times a weeks.

Then the High Holy Days arrive and every year I have the same questions. The big one for me is whether this is all necessary.  The musician and lover of Torah in me rejoices in the opportunity to sing and chant Hebrew. But my inner cynic wonders why some people only come around at this time. Does God truly decide our fate – life, death, rich, poor and so on, at this time or is it merely symbolic? Is this why they show up? Is this even something that God decides or is it chance? Oh, how lucky to have won the lottery. Oh, what a shame you’ve lost your house. Great health or sickness and even death.  There’s a prayer that even gives multiple choices – earthquake, flood or disease. Quickly, the gate is closing! Yikes! This is pretty grim stuff.

I ponder these questions yearly but like all uncomfortable thoughts, I let them go with a sense of relief once the holidays are over.  Especially the little voice that tells me that the prayers at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur don’t change a thing. If this is true, do any of my religious practices matter? Does God care? Do I care? This is a process I’d rather avoid. So this year as I join in communal prayer, I’ll spend time alone with the God of my understanding and ask the hard questions.  I may not get any answers. It won’t be easy but I pray in the end it will be worthwhile.



About Julie Brandon

60ish poet/playwright/blogger living near the Windy City
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