Brian Blum
October 9, 2011, Updated August 5, 2015

Yom Kippur is over, but discussion on the fast continues online. Two articles in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper this weekend presented differing opinions about whether someone secular should fast on the Day of Atonement. Neither author believes in God, but their approaches couldn’t be more different.

Taking the side of the non-fasting public, Uri Misgav says as a non-believer, fasting would be hypocritical, but he insists he is not secular, which he characterizes as a “narrow definition referring to lifestyle alone.” His actions certainly sound secular, though, as he brags that he also “did not circumcise my son.” “Am I Jewish?” he asks. “Certainly. I was born to a Jewish mother and I feel belonging to the Jewish people, its past and heritage.”

Amos Shavit takes the same argument about “belonging” and turns it on its head. He fasts, he says, “based on a desire to be part of a critical mass of people who decided to devote themselves to inner purity on this special day.” He also fasts to connect to the past – “because my parents fast, and this way I can almost touch them, even from a great distance” – and to connect to the future: “because of an idiotic need for my children to be proud of their father.”

Shavit says “I do it because of free choice.” Misgav wants choice too: “I was born and I shall die a free man.”

A recent survey by Gesher and Ynet found that 58% of the Israeli public fast on Yom Kippur. 50% visit a synagogue at least once during the holiday.

So, how about you? Did you fast this Yom Kippur? Please enter your vote in the talkbacks to this post and let’s get our own debate happening on the pages of Israelity.

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