This past week, winter arrived in Israel. There’s no such thing as the luxury of fall here, no gradually yellowing leaves and slight nip in the air. One day the sun is shining and the next — boom. Thunder, lightning, rain… and cold.
Which, of course, leads to the million-dollar question: Will it snow this winter?
“But will it, Mommy? What do you think? And how deep will it be?”
Ah, the many roles of a mommy — weather forecaster as well….
Now, I love snow almost as much as my son does, but I couldn’t help but be grateful that last year, when the snow started to fall, I was safe in the hospital with my newborn baby, not negotiating treacherous roads to get there.
The approach of the snowstorm had colored my whole experience. The staff was rushing around, getting things ready and trying to free up beds in preparation. I watched the chaos and turned to my midwife, Nava. Somehow, between labor and delivery, I’d learned that Nava is extremely left-wing secular. Now I commented, “Whoa, it must be really hard to work here in a snowstorm.”
Nava thought for a moment. “It’s hard, yes, but Yom Kippur is harder.”
No shock there. My sister was born on Motzaei Yom Kippur — along with 43 other babies who also made their appearance that night.
“There are so many births on Yom Kippur and Motzaei Yom Kippur that I have to work a double shift.”
“That doesn’t make me break my fast,” she added.
I looked at her, confused. “You mean you fast the whole of Yom Kippur?”
“Yup,” Nava said proudly. “Every year the rav of the hospital sends out a message to all the doctors and nurses to tell us that those of us who are working don’t need to fast. I might be secular, but I would never eat on Yom Kippur.”
I thought about my own Yom Kippur experience. Sure, as a girl I spent it in shul, pouring out my heart. But three kids later, things changed. Instead of plumbing the depths of my soul, I can spend Yom Kippur pondering how mushed-up baby food can look appetizing, if you’re hungry enough.
But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised at Nava’s revelation. My friend Inbar told me about her own Yom Kippur experience this year.
“When it was nightfall, I Iooked around the house for a siddur. I couldn’t find one,” Inbar told me. “So I left the house in search of a beit knesset. I walked around the streets of Rishon L’Tzion, but it took me a while until I spotted a shul. By the time I walked in, it was empty.
“I walked over to the aron kodesh and kissed it. Then, I found someone’s machzor and flipped through it. I didn’t know what to say, but then the words of Shema caught my eye. I know what Shema is, so I just said it with all my heart. Then I closed the machzor and walked out of shul. After I said those words, I felt different.”
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 618)