It’s Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish day of the year, and what am I doing? I’m watching the Pope’s visit to the United States on TV. I’m not even just watching. I’m glued to it. As I’m taking in the customs, the attire, the complete and utter devotion of all who is in his presence, I am most definitely fascinated.
It’s a strange thing to be so drawn to something from another religion on my own holy day. After all, I am a Jew through and through, and of course, I had to turn to writing to help me make sense of this paradox that has presented itself to me.
What is it about the Pope that I can’t help be drawn to despite a difference in beliefs? Is it his totally rad Popemobile? Or the fact that he kissed the little girl with the yellow t-shirt who broke through police barricades to meet him? Perhaps it the thunderous applause of onlookers as he goes by or the amazing choir and orchestra under an outdoor tent that performs seamlessly for him.
Deep inside though, I know it’s none of that for me. I know why I am drawn to Pope. My inner voice tells me that my fascination all resides in his smile. He’s got a really good one. It’s quiet and humble despite his rock star status, and it travels to his eyes.
It doesn’t matter that the Pope and I may think differently about everything from religion to politics, but despite it, I admire him. The one thing the Pope has that no one can argue about is belief. He is a believer, for sure, and I find it completely endearing. It’s not even that his belief is just in G-d either. From what I gather of the Pope, he seems to have unfettered belief in the human race, and it’s so refreshingly optimistic in a world that often strays away from optimism.
It’s actually been a wonderful blessing that the Pope is here on Yom Kippur, because Yom Kippur is the holiday where you’re supposed to take stock of your priorities. With the Pope’s presence in the United States today, it feels like all Americans are doing just that despite their religious backgrounds.
My song of the day is one of my first favorite tunes by U2. Their “Gloria” always felt very hopeful to me in its praise to G-d. I am choosing U2’s version of “Gloria” over a formal version of the song like I heard that amazing choir sing today as the Pope led mass, because it is relatable for all people just as the Pope has come across during his visit to the United States.