Happy New Year! Today is the birthday of the world! Happy Birthday, World!
Arriving at sundown, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, rings in 5775 on the Hebrew calendar, and with it, the Yamim Nora’im. The Days of Awe in English, it’s a period to make amends with God and those with whom we share this planet, reflect on how close you came to the person you wanted to be–or should have been–last year, and set your self-sights higher for the year to come. Rosh Hashanah kicks things off with spiritual celebration and gratitude, but the Days of Awe quickly become heavier and more ponderous–for this is the time that the literal Eternal keeps the figurative Book of Life open, watching over our teshuvah to determine who gets inscribed for another year of life before the gates close on day ten–Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
If your Jewish friends come out of the woodwork next week to apologize for any wrongs they “may have committed in the past year,” now you’ll know why. In the lead of up to these High Holy Days, I thought a lot about having left the synagogue where I became a Jew, how acrimonious the exit was, and how I felt about entering the holiday period as an unaffiliated Jew. I don’t regret for one second leaving a place that ultimately refused to live up to its promises. But after the unwelcome we got at our last synagogue, we just didn’t have the heart to go shul shopping in time for Rosh Hashanah. So I am happy to report that as it turns out, my kishkes would prefer to attend holiday services with a congregation.
Ryan and I have talked a lot about out next-time synagogue, and part of our personal teshuvah towards each other is a commitment to explore more broadly in 5775. We’re not getting in bed with another congregation quite so quickly next time. And Jewish options beyond Reform will be on the table, as well. Especially for me. Maybe not for Ryan. But we’ll certainly learn more about Judaism–in general and within each of us–in the process.
There will be no apologies from me to anyone for moving on.
But back to the homing-beacon of Rosh Hashanah, pulling me back to teshuvah, and reflection, and most importantly for right now, celebration. It took a lot to get from last year to this one. It’s nice to enter the new year with forward momentum, the ability to earn a living and enjoy where we live while we’re here, and the imagination to conceive of equal momentum, self-respect, love, and awe in warmer climes. (Los Angeles, you remain our intention!)
And we mark the new year at home tonight with apples and honey, with candle, wine, song, and prayer. And tomorrow morning, we fly to LAX for a long, festive weekend at Disneyland. The Rosh Hashanah morning tradition of tashlich suggests filling your pockets with scraps of bread and emptying them into a body of water, each scrap of bread representing sins and and tsouris we resolve to let go and leave behind for the new year. And our tashlich will be done on the shores of the Rivers of America, Frontierland behind us, Tom Sawyer Island before us.
May you greet the new year from your own happiest place on earth as well.