As one of the few Jewish students at Rhodes University and one of the even fewer observant Jews, I often get asked many questions regarding my religious identity and choice of faith. No matter how ludicrous the question is, you can bet I have heard it. Through it all, however, I am certain that my relationship with Judaism is a defining part of who I am. Despite recent trends of many Jews increasingly distancing themselves from their identity, I stand proud with my faith and religion.
So Yom Kippur has come and gone. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the easiest of days. The fast itself wasn’t too bad, although can a 25-hour fast ever be ‘good’ by any standards? The process of reflection and of taking stock of what is going on in my life has been difficult, and the experience of opening oneself up emotionally to the meaning of the day can be draining and hard in general. This being said, this was one of the most meaningful Yom Kippur’s I have experienced to date.
In March of 2016 (my second year of university), I managed to secure a job working as a waitress at a pub near my university. The institution, named The Rat and Parrot, is a popular watering hole among students and local youth, and is one of the most established eateries in town.
Yom Kippur, one of the most important days in the Jewish calendar, falls this year on Saturday 30 September. I mentioned in a previous post that on Rosh Hashanah, which takes place just over a week before Yom Kippur, God begins taking account of all our actions in the previous year in order to judge us for the upcoming year. On Yom Kippur, this judgement is completed and sealed. Thus, Yom Kippur – which means ‘Day of Atonement’ – is the day on which we atone for all our negative deeds and appeal to God to look favourably upon us before our fate for the upcoming year is sealed.
This past week I celebrated my birthday. It was a lovely day and I was both surprised and overjoyed with all the attention, presents and food (chocolate! cake!) that I received. For me, however, my birthday represents so much more than presents and food: it is a day for me to remember who I am and where I belong.
With Pesach upon us, I am currently obsessing over one of my favourite movies of all time: The Prince of Egypt. Directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells in conjunction with composer Hans Zimmer, The Prince of Egypt is an animated musical which tells the Passover story focusing on the Jews’ ultimate exodus from Egypt. While some parts of the story have been highlighted, exaggerated or downplayed, the movie is based on the biblical story and is quite accurate in its story line.
Where I come from, watching The Prince of Egypt at least once in one’s lifetime is somewhat of a rite of passage for any Jewish child or teenager. I personally fell in love with the movie the first time I watched it, and each year when Pesach rolls around, I honour this rite of passage in my own way by making sure I sit down and watch it at least once. I highly recommend watching The Prince of Egypt: not only is it educational, but its catchy tunes and excellent direction make it a must-watch for the entire family.
In the spirits of Pesach, I have made a list of my favourite songs from the movie to give you a bit of a taste of the movie, and in the hopes of inspiring at least one reader to go on and watch it.
This past Sunday, which happened to be a picture of perfect weather following an abysmal and rainy Saturday, a couple of friends and I decided to head down to the beach in Port Elizabeth for an outing. Having been raised in a Jewish orthodox background, I can tell you that there are many, many things Jews have customs regarding. There are some things we’re eager about, and others which aren’t quite treated with the same enthusiasm. It once struck me, however, that one thing which Judaism (and many Jews by extension) is generally more ambivalent towards is the beach.
In my journalism practical this week, my class began a new section of our course entitled Community Partnership. As part of this section, we were asked to join one of three community projects introduced to us in class and with whom we will work once a week until the end of the semester. The lecture itself was a mixture of awkwardness, apprehension and excitement as twenty-odd university students floated around the room to meet the individuals involved in the various projects. While my class and our course are by no means religious in any respect, the activity reminded me of a concept which is central to Judaism, and particularly to many Jews: charity.
I’ll admit it: I’m not a blogger. The thought of putting together a blog post and sharing it with the world* makes me want to jump off the tallest building I can find.
Through some soul search and personal reflection, I’ve concluded that these issues have nothing to do with the how’s nor the why’s of blogging; while I may not be the most tech-savvy individual in the greater Makana district, I’d say my abilities to navigate the interweb are decent, and I believe my reasons for creating this blog are quite clear. Rather, I’ve come to realize, they are rooted in the opinionated nature of blogs.
Humans are interesting creatures. We engage in a variety of activities: some for the purpose of receiving remuneration, others with the goal of social acclaim in mind, a number which add to our personal leisure and a few which allow us to better the world around us. It is likely, I’m sure, that individuals have other reasons for partaking in a particular activity and that these reasons may overlap. All this is applicable to those who choose to pursue activities such as writing. As for me? I write because I don’t believe I’d be able to do much else.