Monday morning started off with a bang. The announcements were short, assignments were quickly stacked on the desk, and we were on our way to the library for a book talk five minutes after the bell rang. As we moved down the hallway, I asked Naomi if she had a nice weekend.
“I fasted on Saturday,” she announced.
“You fasted? Why did you fast?”
“It was Yom Kippur and we fasted,” Naomi explained.
Naomi told me on Friday that it was Yom Kippur. She also told me how unhappy her mom was with their rabbi. We were walking with several other students and Naomi’s announcement caught Nyla’s attention. Nyla began the school year in the middle of a month-long fast for Ramadan, and she knew all about fasting.
“My whole family was fasting Saturday,” Naomi continued. “But I ate a bagel around 11 o’clock and my sister yelled at me.”
“Why did you eat the bagel?” I asked.
“I didn’t know fasting meant you couldn’t eat anything,” Naomi declared.
Now both Nyla and I were staring at Naomi.
“What did you think it meant?” I asked.
“Well I knew my mom wasn’t cooking that day and I thought that’s what fasting was.”
Naomi’s family hovered back and forth practicing their faith. Naomi either wasn’t quite firm on all the observations yet, or she was pulling the old “I didn’t know” strategy with her parents.
“You’re not supposed to eat if you’re fasting,” Nyla offered. “If you do, you have to make up the day.”
That one still confused me. In September Nyla “made up” several of her fasting days.
“When you fast, you’re not supposed to eat or drink anything. Not even water,” Naomi continued.
We made our way into the library and the kids moved into the rows of chairs set up.
As they were settling in, I heard Naomi mutter, “It just doesn’t seem fair not getting to eat.”