“Mommy, are you going to fast this year for Yom Kippur?”
My 7-year-old asked me this question on the way home from school the other day, just hours after I had decided to tackle the question of fasting for my next Jewish Mother Project. I told her I wasn’t sure and asked if they had talked about it in school.
“Yes. When we talked about people not eating or drinking all day, my eyes watered up a little bit. I feel so sad when I think about people not taking care of their bodies and making healthy choices and being so hungry and thirsty all day. I just wanted to cry but I was at school so I didn’t. So I don’t want you to fast. Please don’t, Mommy. Please?”
I could see the tears welling up in my little girl’s eyes as I promised her that no matter what I did for Yom Kippur, I’d make sure that my body was healthy. We talked about pikuach nefesh, and she seemed relieved to learn that Jewish law tells us to take care of our bodies even if it means breaking other rules.