Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Me, pregnant in L.A., March 2002

Today is Yom Kippur, the last day of the Jewish New Year, the holiest of the holy of the Days of Awe. Also a day when adults are commanded to fast, to take in no food or drink for the entire day, from sundown to sundown (how Jewish days are measured).

There is something lovely about this tradition, and I have always enjoyed the fast, especially how it's the perfect excuse for a delicious little afternoon nap.  Also, Jews being Jews, there is always a wonderful full repast immediately afterwards, a gathering of family and friends to break the fast with, because food is truly what we do best.

But I haven't fasted since 1999.  I married in 2000, at nearly 40. So, time being of the essence, we got "to work" right away in our attempts to start a family. Thus there were two years of trying to get pregnant and then two years of being a nursing mother, and since then, just being an exhausted mom of special needs / high maintenance kids.

Now that the boys are ten, it's feeling a bit ridiculous, the never-ending excuses; so today I am semi-fasting - taking in liquids only - easing into it as it were. Plus it's still my reality that I need too much energy to look after my kids to truly fast.

So I am experiencing some hunger today, which is making me think about past hungers in my life, and an amusing story from my life, that I have yet to tell you...

When I was about four months pregnant with the twins, I took my last business trip to LA. (although I had been a frequent visitor until then, I haven't been back since). My husband, Danny, came along, both to carry on some of his own business and take care of me.

He had also accompanied me on my (similarly last) trip to the Sundance Film Festival that January, and I had truly needed his help as the "morning" sickness combined with altitude sickness to leave me in bad shape some days. (See this post for my entertaining story about nearly puking in a famous actor's lap.)

So, back to the L.A. story... we landed in the late afternoon, and it took MUCH, MUCH longer to get the rental car straightened out than we'd planned. By the time we finally arrived at our hotel, I hadn't eaten for hours. I was famished in the way that only a woman pregnant with twins in her second trimester can be famished.

And then? And then? It turned out that our lovely hotel? Had no onsite restaurant open for dinner. (Breakfast through lunch "coffee shop" only. Grrrrrrr.)

It being L.A., we were expected to retrieve our car (10 minute wait) and then drive up and down the street looking for a suitable restaurant (15 to 45 minute process). Yet I, being about to start gnawing on the desk clerk, found that idea impossible. And might have said so in less than polite terms.

We were then directed to the joint across the street, the House of Blues. Nobody's idea of fine, L.A. worthy cuisine, quite truly a tourist trap. But I didn't care. At this point I was a ravenous, crazy pregnant-with-twins starving lady.

And of course: there was a wait for a table. And once we were seated: the service was molasses slow.

At the table next to us was a couple paying their bill, clearly done with dinner. And their basket of fresh cornbread? Untouched.

Yes, I swiped it. I ate left-behind food off a stranger's table in a restaurant. I had turned all Pregnant She-Hulk: MUST. FEED. BABIES.

And my dear husband, who normally would have been mortified by such uncouth behavior didn't bat an eye. (By this point in the pregnancy, he knew better than to get between me and FOOD.)

Also? He very gallantly manhandled a waiter into taking our order pronto and putting it in as a rush.

(Possibly because he saw I was eying the uneaten half of a steak about to be left behind by a different couple at the table on our right.)

That was truly the hungriest I have ever been, or ever hope to be.

And it's good to remember that right now, today, as 5 pm rolls around and I am feeling a bit peckish, impatient in my wait to return to synagogue; eager to hear the final notes of the shofar's blast reverberate through the sanctuary, echoed by the rumbling of a thousand empty stomachs (including mine), yearning to be filled.

L'Shanah Tovah, my friends. And have a Tzom Kal (easy fast).


  1. I'm so pleased you wrote this. I haven't fasted for 5 years - 1 pregnant and 4 more being the sole carer of a young child in 30+ degrees heat outside. Also being stuck at home with her as she's not that interested in sitting quietly in shul (funnily enough). I always feel a bit bad about it although it would be idiotic to fast and make the day miserable for both of us. I thought I was the only one.

  2. Neither of you is the only one. I have fasted only occasionally since my kids were born, and I've got one teenager and one tween. We always talk about the meaning behind the holiday - in fact this morning I heard them, unprompted, apologizing to and then forgiving each other for the past year's wrongs. But going without food and water...I can't do it. And I don't think it makes me any less aware of my atonement.

  3. L'shana tova, my friend. I appreciated this post today. I continue to strictly fast, but there are so many other things I wish I did better.

  4. This year I did some liquids because I have been sick. So I think it's really got to be what works best for you. You do it - you try - you make it work.

    I can remember being pregnant and nursing and knowing what I needed to get me through the holidays. Thanks for sharing your story.


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