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Once a Year Jew
By Aaron Moss


I am a once a year Jew. I go to shul for the High Holydays, having not shown my face the entire year, and then disappear till next High Holydays. Do people like you think I'm a hypocrite for coming to shul once a year?


Funny, I feel the opposite. I am in awe of once a year Jews. I think you are more in touch with your soul than I am.

I go to shul every day, observe Shabbos, keep kosher, enjoy horseradish on my gefilte fish - all the things that Judaism expects of me. But that's because I know what they mean. I have been privileged to learn the meaning of Jewish practice, the power of Torah, and I have seen the positive transformation real Judaism can achieve in a person. It's no surprise that I observe - who wouldn't if they knew what Judaism was all about?

But I look at the once a year Jews, who mostly have little or no Jewish education, don't know the meaning of the prayers, are not sure whether they believe or not, and still they come. Why? What are they doing in shul? What brings them?

There is only one explanation. It's their soul. They have a Jewish soul, so they come to shule.

I on the other hand may have other reasons to come to shul. My mind tells me to go, my habits force me to go, I go this week because I went last week. But for the once a year Jews, there is no external reason to attend shul. The drive comes from deep within; their Jewish essence tells them to go.

The High Holydays season is the one time of year when the Jewish essence comes out of the closet. Jewish souls make a bold and loud statement: "Whether I understand it or not, I am Jewish, and I belong in shul."

So please don't feel funny coming to shul. Maybe you'll be inspired to become a once a month Jew, or even once a week. But even if not, just by coming you remind us of the power of the Jewish soul.


Posted on September 6, 2007
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