The anxieties of abstaining from food and water on Yom Kippur (and enduring an expected heat wave in Los Angeles this weekend) start to dance around my head months before the actual holiday. As I try to do the important work of teshuva, I keep thinking: How am I going to prepare for and survive the fast?! How many late summer conversations do I have with my coffee drinking friends about their preferred caffeine withdrawal techniques?
Needless to say, I probably don’t need to remind anyone of the billion plus people worldwide who experience many days like this from lack of access to or fresh water each week, month, year. Or the 46.5 million Americans who are hungry (21 million children, 7 million seniors). Unlike the daily struggles billions of people endure, this is one day for Jews without food or water.
And even though my mind admittedly will at times be distracted by a visual loop equivalent to the Food Network, Yom Kippur is really a gift. It’s an opportunity to try to move into a deep spiritual realm that is beyond our physical dimensions.As one of my teacher’s, Diane Bloomfield, taught, when we ask for God to seal us into the book of life (gmar chatima tova), we ask to be written into the book where we are aligned with life itself. We recommit our desire to live not only for ourselves but also for God’s sake, as expressions of God in the world.
Following the sun’s arc in the sky of the day, our internal rhythm softens and quiets and our bodies slow down. The chatter of our minds’ dissolves as we are able to drop more deeply inside ourselves and align with God.
Ironically, after we attempt to live a day in abstention from much of the physical world to focus on our souls, I (and I assume I’m not alone here) quickly jumped out of it the moment the holiday finished. My ritual was generally the following: race to my break fast venue to devour bagels, fill my plate with pounds of kugel, eat an amount of pasta equivalent to a month’s worth according to USDA dietary guidelines, add some healthy salad for good measure, and top it off with tasting comparisons of all the available desserts. And, how could I ignore the chocolates that would be great additional treats for the trip home in the off chance that I still felt hungry?
Not good on my body. My stomach and intestines would tell me: “Sarah, this doesn’t feel so great. We can’t handle it.” But, I kept eating away. I would think to myself, “after ignoring the grumblings in my stomach all day, why do I now need to start paying attention to it and my intestines now?! ” Then, after I completed my feast, I quickly would go into a self induced food coma and complain about not feeling well.
I’ve realized that I don’t want to feel this way after Yom Kippur (and my friends and family probably don’t want to hear me complain yet again about eating too much food!). I’ve opted for a much gentler immersion back into “regular life” that I find more supporting and aligned with my mood after the emotionally and physically intense holiday.
Post-fast, I will be having lots of juice, fresh watermelon, oranges, water and soup. I’ve decided to join the juice brigade with the following recipe that does not require one to own a Vitamix or other juicing machine. You just need a blender, mesh strainer and drinking glass.
The Post-Yom Kippur Juice
(below are the organic items I bought at the farmers market, but obviously choose whatever fruits and veggies you prefer to create a nice balance between sweet and savory)
1/2 large cucumber or 2 smaller cucumbers
1 bunch of kale
1 juiced lemon
1 tsp turmeric
Wash everything thoroughly. Cut into small pieces.
Place everything except lemon juice and turmeric in blender and blend until smooth (add water if too thick).
Pour over a mesh strainer into a glass (pushing through with a spatula might speed the process up).
Add lemon juice and turmeric.
Enjoy immediately or leave in fridge until ready.
PS: 30-40% of American food is wasted annually! After straining, you can add the leftover pulp to a soup, pasta sauce, stir fry, smoothie, etc. Or, freeze in ice cube trays for quick addition to a dish.
Wishing you an easy, meaningful fast.