Sunday, September 15, 2013

Clean Slate

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar.

In the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur you are supposed to be contemplative and atone for your sins of the prior year, to start the year anew, with a clean slate. This should take place in synagogue, but...Years ago, when I was living in Richmond I heard about a Yom Kippur observance where you go to the river with a bagel and throw in pieces, representing your sins of the year, and watch them float away, wiping your slate clean.

I decided on a warm, sunny fall day that was a much better way for me to observe the holiday. I headed to Jones Point Park, another nearby spot I hadn't visited previously and took part in my own personal Yom Kippur service.
Boundary marker from...
the olden days. (I was too busy
being contemplative to pay
attention to dates)

(Side note: Jones Point Park is really cool! It's basically underneath the Wilson Bridge. A bridge I've driven over countless times in the past 10+ years and I had no clue this park existed until this weekend. Well, that's not true. Probably about 6 months ago I read about a new playground at the park, and knew it was down near the Wilson Bridge, but until I got there yesterday I had no idea the park ran underneath the bridge. With playgrounds on either side and basketball courts directly under it. The Mount Vernon Trail runs through the park and there are walking trails that fan out from it, stopping by historic sites like the first house built in DC and the stone markers that mark the cities original boundaries, when it included sections of land that have since been returned to Virginia.)

My stack of mini bagels
Anyway, back to Yom Kippur. I stopped by a small grocery store on my way to the park and planned to buy one bagel. I was fasting for the holiday as you are supposed to do, so the idea of entering a grocery store at all wasn't appealing, but I figured that would be easier than stopping at a bagel shop or bakery. The store I picked however was so small it didn't have a bakery case where I could buy one bagel. So a bag of mini-bagels it was. When I got to the park I decided I'd get rid of those sins first, as the temptation of walking around with food in my pocket when I couldn't eat was more than I could stand. 

My "sins" ready to be washed away!

Maybe it was the ritual of cleaning my slate, maybe it was just luck, but in the end I really did have "an easy fast" which is the greeting you give people on Yom Kippur. I was quite hungry in the late afternoon, but after a few hours it passed, and I made it to Baltimore to break the fast with my family with no cheating at all. I also enjoyed a really nice afternoon, exploring part of the city I had never seen before, and added 11,000 steps to my total for the week.  

All in all, a pretty good way to kick off a new year. 

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