Keret on Nextbook
Nextbook, the online magazine of Jewish culture, has started a new series of columns, to appear on Thursdays. The first is by Israeli author Etgar Keret, who writes about what it’s like to be an atheist and have a sister who converts to Orthodox Judaism.
Nineteen years ago, in a small wedding hall in Bnei Brak, my older sister died, and she now lives in the most Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. I spent a recent weekend at her house. It was my first Shabbat there. I often go to visit her in the middle of the week but that month, with all the work I had and my trips abroad, it was either Saturday or nothing. “Take care of yourself,” my wife said as I was leaving. “You’re not in such great shape now, you know. Make sure they don’t talk you into turning religious or something.” I told her she had nothing to worry about. Me, when it comes to religion, I have no God. When I’m cool I don’t need anyone, and when I’m feeling shitty and this big empty hole opens up inside me, I just know there’s never been a god that could fill it and there never will be. So even if a hundred evangelist rabbis pray for my lost soul, it won’t do them any good. I have no God, but my sister does, and I love her, so I try to show Him some respect.
Like much of Keret’s work, the essay is both funny and poignant. You can read the essay here.