Holidays, Miracles, and Describing God as a Non-Theist

I think I deserve to be at this table

I think I deserve to be at this table

Author’s note: This post is probably about two weeks later than it should have been.  It took me a little while to get to write it.  What can I say?  I’m a busy man.  In the article, I mention God a lot, and when I use pronouns to describe that particular deity, I capitalize them.  Please don’t have a cow over it, it’s what I’m used to and I think it helps make the pronouns distinct from others.

Passover is, without a doubt, my favorite Jewish Holiday.  Well… let’s clarify that.  Since I started keeping Kosher to feel a cultural connection to the only roots I really have, the first two days of Passover are my favorite Jewish Holiday, the lack of beer in the following six days is annoying.  But going back to the original point, Passover is my favorite Jewish Holiday, bar none.  Chanukah, to be frank, is a bit of a bullshit holiday.  It’s only gotten as big as it has due to its proximity to Christmas.  There are interesting things about it, what most people don’t know is that it’s actually the celebration of a military victory, the Maccabees over the remnants of the Greek Empire in the second or first century BCE, but because Jews didn’t like celebrating a military victory, we decided to go for oil burning longer than it was supposed to.  The big Jewish gift giving/party holiday is Purim, but my family never celebrated that.  Rosh Hashanah was never a big family affair for us.  It was a day when we’d go to Shul, listen to Torah and the Shofar (big smelly rams horn hollowed out into a crude brass instrument – well, it’s not brass, but it is played the same way).  Sometimes, we’d get together with another family afterward, but it was never the affair that Passover is.  And Yom Kipor?  The whole holiday I spend waiting for the holiday to be over, and though I do generally enjoy the meal that follows, I don’t think I can give Yom Kipor the credit that as soon as the day is done I have a good time.  Passover, on the other hand, is pretty fun.  It’s like a big Jewish Thanksgiving.  It’s a ceremonial meal where you sit around, get tipsy, tell a big story, and then have a good dinner.  You ask me, it’s everything a holiday should be. … continue reading this entry.

On Rituals of a Non-Skeptical Nature

Jews praying in a synagogue on Yom Kippur, painting by Maurycy Gottlieb.

Jews praying in a synagogue on Yom Kippur, painting by Maurycy Gottlieb.

Yesterday began Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. All over the world, Jews are fasting, and though I am a proud member of NYC Skeptics, I am among them.

By spending the day fasting, I do not feel that I am cowing to some angry sky-daddy, hoping he doesn’t put my name in the book of death. I do not believe in any god so petty that he would kill me for a year of non-perfect adherence to a set of mostly arbitrary rules designed to separate me from other people because my parents were Jews and their were not.

But to acknowledging that I have an origin, a people that have survived thousands of years of heartache and strife, for me the hunger is worthwhile. I believe that if one wants, even a skeptic can find a place for a little ritual in their lives. … continue reading this entry.

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