Today is New Year’s Day 5777 Don’t look for a ball to drop in Times Square, but perhaps a matzo ball or two will plunk into a shisl of chicken soup. It’s OK if you’re not wearing a silly hat, but it’s OK to wear a yarmulke. Noisemakers? Um..no, unless you want the rabbi to toss you out on your talis. Why are we 3,761 years ahead of everyone else? Ever wait for a Jew to get ready to get in the car? We needed that much of a head start.
Unlike the secular turning of the calendar celebrated with drunken gatherings and other forced frivolity, today, on Rosh Hashanah, we Jews spend the day seriously assessing our lives of the past year and hope to book another trip around the sun by being inscribed in the Book of Life after seeking forgiveness and atonement for our sins 10 days hence on Yom Kippur. That’s the day you don’t eat. You pray and think and hope the other old men in the temple broke the rule long enough to brush their teeth.
When I was younger I never missed a Sabbath or holiday to attend temple. Before we had kids my non-Jewish wife and I attended each other’s services. Then, as life intervened, we stopped, but we never stopped celebrating and respecting our holidays and faiths and teaching our children about them. Indeed, my late mother marveled at my wife’s wonderful matzo balls and tried to pry from her that “secret recipe.” My wife simply deadpanned, “I followed the directions on the box.” She must be great at following directions because they still kick the tushies of those I’ve had in the best Jewish delis.
By the same token, I’ve helped erect and decorate the Christmas tree and my wife makes sure the right number of Chanuka candles are in the menorah. I noticed that this year the two holidays are on the same day. Since Jesus started as a Jew we can celebrate his birthday and..conversion..simultaneously!
There’s not much I can contribute to Easter besides using some Peeps to plug up some holes in our pipes, but my wife puts on an absolutely incredible Passover seder. Yes, we read the entire story from the Hagadah before dinner and have never once missed a year.
The real point is, on this day of reflection, we’re all one. We may have different beliefs about how the world began, who’s running the show or what symbols to respect, but we all want the same things…health, happiness, good things for our families, success and peace and maybe a Dove bar once in awhile. And you must always add humor. We used to joke that a mezzuzah is just a cross without handlebars. Remember that. Be well.