Why do they call it a fast when it goes by soooo slow(ly)

Fasting was a big topic of conversation in our family this weekend. My oldest daughter is 13 and it is the first year she felt responsible for observing this Yom Kippur ritual.

Considering how much time we usually spend talking about food and what we are going to eat and how we will prepare it and how good it tastes, it is not a surprise that in its distinctive  absence  we  filled the void with conversation about not eating, or when we would eat or how hungry we might be feeling or how the feeling of hunger kind of goes away after a while.

At one point I mused that the word fast is really an oxymoron all by itself. Why on earth would they choose a word that suggests a rapid finish for an act that takes such a very long time?

We usually go to Temple in the morning until about noon when we go home and do not return at 3 pm for the afternoon service. Traffic and school nights always made it seem so inconvenient.

This year, Yom Kippur was on a Saturday, eliminating both of those issues. Also, I really wanted to go to the Yizkor (memorial) service in the afternoon. This is the first year that both of my parents are gone and it seemed very important to attend services in both of their memory.

I lit the two Yarzheit candles  before sundown on Friday and they burned the requisite 24 hours on our kitchen counter. It was amazing how those two little twinkling candles were such a comfort, like my parents were here with us for a short time, sharing the day with us. The light, their dancing spirits, brightening our home for while. I felt so sad when they were done.

It turns out that the afternoon service is now my favorite. It was peaceful and meaningful. The sun pouring into the Synagogue as it set and the warm glow from the lights of the memorial plaques taking its place.

And it is totally easier to fast while you are at services praying and reflecting and concentrating on other thoughts than when you are sitting at home waiting for the day to end so you can eat.

We broke the fast at Kit n Kitchen on University Avenue. I’ve only been to this restaurant once before, but I have very fond memories of that meal. My husband took me there  for dinner four years ago, soon after we were engaged. We planned our wedding that night. The food was good too.

It was good again on Saturday–and not just because we were hungry.

While I think it would be nice to invite people to our home and break the fast together, it is very  hard for me to imagine preparing a meal when I am so hungry. I haven’t quite figured out  the logistics of that one, so we go out.

The kids had the Volcano Stone Grilled. They bring the hot stone to the table and grill the meat and vegetables right there.

We were treated to the owner, Kit’s, presence as he helped prepare the steak for our children.

Both  my husband and I ordered lamb and savored every bite.

The kids enjoyed their Coca Cola bottle collection.

It was a particularly meaningful holiday, fast and services and memorial and all.

How/where did you break the fast?

We should not be the lost tribe

One of the reasons that I started this blog is because very little is written about the Jewish people who live in Hawaii.   While we might be a minority in this diverse island culture, we are still a vibrant, active community who deserves appropriate representation and coverage by our local media.

Most people don’t even know we exist. In Hawaii we are an anomaly.

Community events, local elections and school activities are scheduled with no regard to our most religious holy days like Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur or our widely popular festival, Chanukkah.

I don’t expect the local public to stop functioning on our account. That would be ridiculous. But it would be nice if they tipped a nod in our direction every once in a while.

The community in which I grew up in Southern California in the 1960’s had very few Jewish families. I know what it’s like to be one of the few Jewish kids in a school, but at least they knew we existed. I got to sing the dreidle song in our school holiday program every year. And while I might have sung it a bit off-key, I sang it with pride in the opportunity to represent my family and my Jewish community.

The first time I suggested that the holiday program at my daughter’s school be about more than Christmas it started a HUGE controversy. Luckily they have come a long way since then and we are quite comfortable with the season. They actually listened.

Local media Christmas coverage begins long before the Thanksgiving turkey is defrosted, yet there is nothing written about Chanukkah. It cracks me up that the Kapolei “Holiday” parade only represents Christmas and is often scheduled during Chanukkah.

This Saturday was no exception. Yom Kippur came and went with little  acknowledgment from our local media. The Star Advertiser features their religion page on Saturday, a perfect opportunity to feature the Jews’ most holy of holy days.

Instead their lead story was, “Church leaders learn to set physical limits.” They included a poem submitted by a local Jewish woman in the briefs at the bottom of the page.

There are so many stories they could write. Here’s a few great angles they could have chosen:

Yom Kippur and the primary election were on the same day. How did Jews vote?

Governor Lingle attends services at the local reform Jewish Synagogue. (Hello?)

Jews fast on Yom Kippur, where were they breaking that fast this year?

And these are just a few good ideas. I recently learned that on Rosh Hashanah a few weeks ago, several of our Temple members were at Magic Island for the ritual of Tashlich and ended up saving a drowning child’s life while they were there. That might have made a good story.

Instead it was posted as a brief in the Police section, never mentioning the mitzvah performed by this group of people who happened to be at the right place at the right time—-because they were Jewish!

Local TV news isn’t much better. Hawaii News Now briefly mentioned the primary election dilemma and Rosh Hashanah was brought up in connection with the businessman who was arrested in relation to charges of human trafficking. Nice!

I don’t think we are left out on purpose. I think we just don’t exist for most people in Hawaii. That cracks me up too.

There are communities on the mainland where their schools are actually closed for the Jewish Holidays, like we close the schools for Good Friday here. Except they close the schools there because too many people would be absent and it isn’t worth the money it takes  to operate on those days. Good Friday is a state holiday in Hawaii. Explain that one!

Thus, my blog was born, to give our local community a voice outside of ourselves. Being Jewish in Hawaii is definitely a unique experience, one that certainly needs to be shared with more than just my fellow local Jewish community.