Caffeine Withdrawal Leads to Introspection

I did the impossible. With no food or coffee in my system, I socialized with a congregation full of people. Yesterday was this high Jewish holiday called Yom Kippur. At home, I don’t usually do anything special. In fact, I usually forget when the holiday is until my dad is like “Sarah it’s Yom Kippur” and it takes me a minute to process what that holiday is actually about as I finish the remaining bite of my bagel (you’re supposed to fast on Yom Kippur). I wasn’t planning on fasting yesterday but my grandma was yelling at me to finish getting ready for services so I frantically left the house without eating anything. Little did I know we were going to be at Shul (a Jewish house of worship) all day.
When we got there, my grandma and I took a seat in the front row; I could feel the gaze of Jewish ladies waiting to strike conversation with me as soon as the service was over. Ten minutes in, I was already feeling fidgety. It also felt like I was having a near death experience since I was so hungry from not eating.
For almost the entire duration of the service, I pictured what the Rabbi would look like without a beard until finally, the moment everyone was waiting for; they dismissed the service to break the fast (Jewish people jargon for time to eat yo!). I was mostly excited to drink coffee because I had a raging headache from caffeine withdrawal.
I eventually started talking to a girl who goes to University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was nice to talk to someone who wasn’t old and didn’t pinch my checks. We got food and made our way to an empty table. Everyone is eating and chatting when, all of a sudden, my grandma makes this putrid face and announces that the mushroom soup is spoiled (fortunately, I hate mushrooms so I didn’t even bother helping myself to any) Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal but it was for two reasons 1) we are talking about my grandparents 2) the Shul thrives on this kind of stuff. Before you know it, people are whispering to their neighbor “did you hear the soup is bad?” and “I wouldn’t eat that soup if I were you.” I found the whole thing highly humorous.
It’s kind of sad that on the holiest day in Judaism, what resonated with me the most is the spoiled soup incident. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of my character or my view of religion in general. Connecting with Judaism has been an ongoing process for me. While I am proud of my religion, my connection to it fluctuates. And while everyone at the Shul is very nice and are overall really great people, I sometimes feel out of place there. Maybe I would have been able to make more of this experience if I wasn’t so malnourished for the majority of it or, better yet, maybe I should just start my own religion that worships coffee.


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