Yom Kippur for Shul-Haters
How do you confess to a sin without believing in sin?
This year's school calendar arrived in the mail. We noticed that they hadn't included any teacher days off for "professional development." While that ostensibly meant less of a need for Monday afternoon childcare, Regina and I still felt disappointed. We'd planned to take our son to Disneyland on his September free day. At California amusement parks, only a mid-week non-holiday ensures short lines and crowds that won't explode your brain. Now, with school meeting nearly every day in fall, Regina tried to find an acceptable substitute.
Pollack will not go to Disneyland
on Yom Kippur.
"We could take him on Yom Kippur," she said.
I reacted immediately, with maximum emotional violence.
"Are you out of your mind?" I said. "You can't go to Disneyland on Yom Kippur!"
"Why not?" she said. "It's open."
"Yeah," I said. "But it's Yom Kippur! That's just not appropriate."
"Come on. You hate Yom Kippur. You don't do anything on Yom Kippur."
"That's not the point! Would you take Elijah to Disneyland on Easter?"
My wife, if you hadn't guessed, isn't Jewish.
"I might," she said.
"Well, that's your mishegas," I said. "Under no circumstances would I ever go to Disneyland on Yom Kippur."
"Fine," she said. "Elijah and I will go, and you can stay home by yourself and atone for your sins."
"Or commit some," I said.
"My point exactly."
It wouldn't be fair to call me a non-observant Jew. I lead my extended family's first-night Passover seder every year. When we light Hanukkah candles, I force my half-breed to sing Maoz Tzur. I belong to Jewish cultural organizations and mailing lists and know the meaning of the phrase tikkun olam. Certain scenes in Barry Levinson's Avalon bring me to tears. But when it comes to the High Holidays, and, in particular, Yom Kippur, I'm about as Jewish as the guy behind the counter at my neighborhood bodega.
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