So tonight I'm visiting residents in a nursing home, one I get to several times per week. I know the staff well, and I know dozens of residents. Anyway, the kitchen brings up a snack cart with sandwiches, cookies, chips and ice cream bars. The residents all go for the ice cream. One sneaks an extra bar and gives it as a present to an aide, a twenty-something woman originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She takes it and starts eating. Another aide, a nice guy also from Addis, sees her and tells her harshly in Amharic to stop eating. She does and looks shaken.
I ask her what happened. It turns out this was a fast day for Ethiopian Christians. J's mother's yartzeit and her "resurrection." The girl says to me, "I don't know what to do. I forgot I was fasting and now I cannot fast. I've never done this before! What do I do?"
So I paskened.
I told her she should not eat any more and should continue as if she were still fasting. Then, tomorrow she should call her priest to see what should be done. "He'll probably tell you to fast another day to make it up," I said, thinking of the halakhic response to similar situations.
She thought that made sense.
UPDATE 8-15-07: Tonight, I saw the Ethiopian Christian woman again. If I understood her correctly, she told me that her priest told her to finish the rest of the fast and then make up the complete fast another day. In other words, their ritual law and our halakha coincide on this one.