Reprinted with thanks to Kveller.

As I grow in the knowledge of my faith, my level of religious observation evolves and deepens. I love discovering the meaning and beauty inherent in the ancient practices of my beloved Judaism, the practices that nourish my soul.

Recently at Shabbat service, however, I found myself altering the way I worship once again. I remained seated throughout the entire service, and did not rise during the parts where the congregation is exhorted to stand: Amidah, the Barchu or the Mourner’s Kaddish.

No, it’s not a matter interpreting the text, a “Hillel says rise, Shammai says sit” kind of rabbinic debate.

I had to finally acknowledge I simply couldn’t rise.

I’ve struggled with the effects of lupus and the accompanying severe joint pain and fatigue for some time, managing to just handle it, with what I’d like to think of as dignity in the face of discomfort — AKA saving face. But that week, though, which came after marking my 40th birthday, I hit another obstacle: renal failure.

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Jenifer Newmark, WHP Member (St. Louis 15) is a registered veterinary nurse and writer.  Jenifer is a current member of the board of trustees for her beloved synagogue, United Hebrew Congregation in Chesterfield, MO.  She lives in St. Louis with her husband John, their twin sons Martin and Samuel and two cats.  Jenifer is in need of a kidney transplant and is seeking a living donor. She can be reached at or follow her on Facebook at Jenifer Newmark Needs a Kidney, and on Instagram at @jenskidney.