Jews around the world are finishing the Days of Awe, that time between the New Year and the Day of Atonement when we are to reflect on our behavior for the past year and seek forgiveness for our actions. It is now Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As I stood in services tonight listening to the centuries old prayer called Kol Nidre, I was struck by the haunting beauty of the melody and the meaning of the Aramaic words:
"All vows , obligations, oaths, and anathemas, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths."
I'll spend part of tomorrow in services thinking about all the hateful things I did and said over the last year. As I sing the prayers of repentance over and over again, my soul will lighten. The burden of my bad actions will be lifted from me, and I will start anew. I love this part of Judaism: it is at once soul-searching and cleansing without being accusatory. And while the kids just won't allow us to spend the entire day praying in shul, WineGuy and I will share what few moments we have together and strengthen our bond to each other, to Judaism, and to G-d.
And that is why it's important for Jews to marry within their own religion: so that our fundamental moral and ethical bonds are continually renewed under a canopy of love, mutual respect, and heritage.