Yom Kippur Jury Duty

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So I need to tell you, it’s really weird being called onto a jury the day before Yom Kippur. When I tell people, they’ve mostly been quick to freak out about the religious rules about it — mostly, that I’ll be in court until an hour before the holiday starts, and apparently you’re supposed to have a great, grand feast the day before Yom Kippur. In the exact words of the Talmud (I don’t remember; I’m totally paraphrasing) — “Anyone who stuffs his face the day before Yom Kippur, it is like he fasted for two days.”

Something tells me people don’t eat in courtrooms. I don’t know this for sure, but I feel like I’d remember it if I saw someone on Ally McBeal or Law & Order crunching on some Dipsy Doodles. (Or, on Ally, probably unpeeling a suggestive-looking banana.) I actually don’t know at all what to ally mcbeal courtroomexpect, beyond the specifics of the trial. Officially, I’m not allowed to share it with you, but let’s just say I found it strange that they still accepted me as a juror — considering my new book came out last week, and I told them all about the accident at the center of the story. *whistles*

I know I should have tried to get out of it. Believe me, as a small nonprofit employee who writes a daily email and a father of two, it’s really freakin’ hard to make the room in my life for it. (And I guess you could make the case that I did try to get out of it — see above, the part about my book.) The real kicker came when I asked a lawyer-friend, and he said, “You’ll get off without a hitch. They never choose Orthodox Jews for a jury.” And now I sort of feel like I’m the first Hasidic Jew who’s ever served on a jury, and I’ve gotta make a good run of it, or else everyone will think Hasidic Jews are draft-dodgers. Jury-dodgers. Whatever.

But as the trial date gets closer and closer, I find myself getting both more apprehensive and more excited. Partly it’s that I’m going to be put in charge of somebody’s future, someone’s fate, and maybe a lot of money. Partly that it’s reflexive. Just like this person’s going to be standing in front of us, I’m going to be standing in front of God, defending my lifestyle choices and excusing my slip-ups and asking for another shot.

I don’t think any of this renders me partial to the defendant or the plaintiff. Or maybe it does? That’s all any of us can really do, right? — take our life experience and apply it to our verdict. I’m talking about the New York District Court case, and to my own divine case.

So I probably won’t get to have my pre-Yom Kippur feast this year. But I have a feeling it’ll still be meaningful. Plus maybe I’ll meet Lucy Liu?

Posted on October 5, 2011

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