Yom Kippur and eating disorders
Thank you for approaching the topic of eating disorders and Yom Kippur, including the repentance of sins “For Jews with eating disorders, new traditions aim to make Yom Kippur a safer experience,” Sept. 29).
I applaud the therapists and patients who are openly helping those afflicted with these illnesses. When I was a young woman, I, too, struggled with eating disorders. Yom Kippur challenged me in the ways described in the article. I did not know if fasting was appropriate for me, given the practice encouraged “starving myself.” I was not able to benefit from the specialized programs run by Jewish therapists; it was my secret when I attended services. I have overcome this psychological disorder (through therapy).
Now, I view fasting as part of a traditional ritual which enables one to focus on insight, prayer and meditation. Being a self-critical person, the repentance of sins has seemed counterintuitive for me who has worked for years to be more self-accepting. I say the prayer now as a communal ritual for our community and country.
That is not to say that I have not wronged.
More about Jewish El Paso
Judah Lesser (You Should Know, Sept. 22) gave a picture of a Jewish El Paso that I would like to expand on a bit. I just returned from visiting Jewish El Paso where I was raised in a robust Jewish community, albeit 60 years ago. I still have family there and my family was prominent in that community. My grandfather was a founding member of B’nai Zion the Conservative synagogue, and my uncle, Sam Alfman, was secretary to Rabbi Martin Zielonka at Temple Mt. Sinai in the 1920s.
Chabad is a new and welcome partner in El Paso. I still belong to both B’nai Zion and Temple Mt. Sinai as an out-of-towner. Their growth varies with the times, and their presence in El Paso is essential. It is where I learned to love being Jewish.
Find a synagogue you like
With all due respect to Jeff Rubin for writing that people don’t attend shul because “people feel unwelcome at synagogues” (Opinion, Sept. 29), I believe his theory is too simplistic. It is true that rabbinic leaders can be harsh or strict and didactic in their comments toward congregants who do not always adhere to the tenets of Judaism. And that is why Chabad has been so successful in accepting congregants as they are. However, generations of Jews have not been brought up to believe that a synagogue is a friendly place, second to one’s home, as it was in my youth. As a child I attended synagogue every Friday night and Saturday morning with my parents and cherished every minute of this family togetherness. I looked forward to Friday night kiddish and singing , and Saturday mornings with other kids my age. I believe that if a child attends synagogue regularly, it will become part of a family’s ritual and a priority in their life. Otherwise attendance becomes spotty, and obligatory. Synagogues have taken on a different meaning for today’s family for both parent and child and consequently the bond is not as tight and may easily be severed if anyone feels slighted or gets hurt feelings.
If the bond is strong, they may not walk away so readily.
Bottom line: Find a synagogue you like and attend regularly with your children.
Lake Worth, Fla.