Monday, October 3, 2016

Happy New Year!

Several people have asked me if my school has Rosh Hashanah off.  No, we don't. 

I remember the first autumn we lived down here, and how remarkable it seemed to me to have Jewish holidays off.  Before South Florida, I had never lived in any place with enough Jews to affect holiday policy in this way. We moved down here to be part of a more multicultural environment, but before we arrived, I hadn't thought of North American Jews as one of the cultures I'd get to meet.

I'm an equal opportunity celebrator: let's have some Muslim and Hindu holidays off too!

At my school, we have Christmas day and a day before or after Christmas--those don't seem like particularly Christian holiday times to me.  We have Good Friday off, which is strange to me, since there are only a few of us deeply Christian enough to observe this holiday.  Most people would probably rather have Easter Monday off--it would make travel on the week-end easier, if we're part of families who celebrate Easter in any way.

But back to this Jewish high holy day.  If I was a practicing Jew, this day, indeed this time, the 30 days before Rosh Hashanah up through Yom Kippur and beyond to Sukkot, would be drenched with meaning.  I've met many Jews who will fast on Yom Kippur, even though they don't observe any other part of the spiritual path which is Judaism.  I've met "cultural Jews" who will cook the foods of each holiday but participate in no other way.

Are there aspects of this holiday that can speak to us all?  Certainly.  I like the idea of times that encourage us to be mindful of our best selves--how we're manifesting our best selves and where we still need some work.  For many of us, that time comes once a year, around January 1.

I know that people eat sweets on this holiday in the hopes of having an upcoming year that's sweet. Does the same hold true for other kinds of invitations? Should we be doing activities on Rosh Hashanah that we hope to invite into our lives for the rest of the year?

I'm not sure that's a real Jewish tradition, but I like the idea of it. Here I sit, writing in the early hours of the morning--I hope that I can still be doing that as the year progresses.  Later today, I'll be in touch with friends and family, whether by way of Facebook, e-mail, or good old-fashioned face to face talking.  I've gotten away from some of the visual arts that I do--let me find time to do that today.  Today is the first day of the new term at my school--may there be many more!
Happy Rosh Hashanah to us all, whether we be cultural Jews, Orthodox Jews, ecumenically minded folks, or that large group of people who have no religious practice.  May the coming year be sweet in ways that will nourish us!

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