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Although I did not fast on Yom Kippur, I ended the day of atonement with some homemade shrimp-corn cakes, topped with a spicy roasted red pepper puree. I did go to shul both days, but somehow I always manage to top up the day with some awesome sacrelige - in this case, shrimp.

Treif and all - perhaps because of its forbidden place on the holiday - it was delicious.

I get bored at shul, so I started to read the liturgy. In this case I stumbled across a lot of reference to our imprefection as humans in relation to our vows. How we have these moments of earnest clarity, where we promise ourselves or one another that we will act to change something, only to lose that clarity and conviction moments later.

Synagogue is a funny place, you know? Or, rather, High Holiday congregations are funny. Here we are, surrounded by people from arbitrary parts of our lives, all dressed up in our fancy clothes, fighting boredom, smelling each others' breath (I know, I always go on about the yom kippur halitosis. But it's treacherous!).

Across from me were two boys from my childhood in another city, one of whom I remember teasing me with heavy sarcasm. He caught my eye and patted his belly and smiled a congratulations. We knew each other when we were five! Not too long from now, I will have a boy who is five. Ahead of my was a distant cousin, to the far right an old friend from Jerusalem and his wife.

My mother, too, shifted, with varying degrees of comfort/discomfort at familiar figures. Some from work, some from difficult parts of childhood, some arbitrary connections from where was that again? Now we rise. Now we sit. Now we face the ark.

I vow to not let my relationship to my past or present stagnate. As a human, I am all too aware of of my flaws and flights of fancy, so in case I break this vow, we can blame that imperfection. But to the people I know, and I have known, I vow to greet them fresh, without assumptions, without cowering in anticipation of blows or with barbed judgements.

Remember that line about Gatsby, where Fitzgerald writes how his magic was in treating people as though they are already they people that they aspire to be? Maybe, also, to be a bit more like that.

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