9/5/13

Rosh Hashanah . . .

Apples and honey? Sure. But there is more food. So much
more food. Jewish food is the best food because Jewish
food don't stop (repeat over rap beat).
It is hard (for me) to believe that I first met with Rabbi Davis and started my conversion a full year ago (it was just before Rosh Hashanah when we first met) and even harder to believe I waited so long to meet with him and to start the process. The FINAL of the "firsts" of my experience lay ahead - the High Holy Days are finally upon us and I am ready. In honor of Rosh Hashanah (that started last night at sundown - this post was put together on Sunday afternoon) . . . some trivia:

1) Yes. Rosh Hashanah is marked on different days of the common calendar year to year but the date remains the same on the Hebrew calendar.

2) Rosh Hashanah is NOT the first day of the year (5774, in this case) but, instead, the 1st and 2nd days of the seventh month (Tishri) of the year. Why? Seven is special to Jews (and to Prince/The Jabberwocks).

3) The Seder, typically thought of in connection with Passover, is also held for Rosh Hashanah only all the food is even more sweet than it might otherwise be to mark and anticipate a sweet new year.

4) The marking of the new year is mainly about G-d opening his three books once a year to do some basic accounting. One book (the one we all hope to be in) is a book of the "good." The second (that we don't want to be in) is a book of the "bad" - those that shall perish pretty much immediately. The third (where most of us will spend most of the years of our lives) are souls and beings that are in the middle and need more work and time. No Santa Claus jokes needed here folks, one is secular humor the other is the essence of the beliefs of a major religion.

5) The sound of the shofar actually scares me. Even though I can watch a person put it to their lips and I know it is coming. I know what dogs feel like on the fourth of July. We'll leave it at that.

6) Tashlich (translated "to cast") is part of the Rosh Hashanah tradition. To mark the occasion Jews will gather by a flowing body of water (as available) and recite prayers and then take pieces of bread and release them - as though casting of their sins or anything that is holding them back (envy, sadness, anger, etc.). It promises to be emotional for me because, well, pretty much everything is these days.

7) There are several services and ceremonies starting at sundown before the first day of Rosh Hashanah but nearly all are on the first day of the two day celebration. The second is largely reserved for reflection and prayer and preparing for the year ahead - presuming you are not in the "bad" book.

8) Like with many of the larger Jewish holidays there is a strong suggestion that the day be honored as the Sabbath should be. That includes NO going to work, making fire, handling money, etc. etc. etc. That means foods that are room temperature and/or slow-cooked (so you can set the oven to warm before sundown and cook throughout, as needed) OR that are quick and easy to prepare after sundown when the typical fast (for those that fast) is broken. Like so many things in the Jewish culture, there are no strict and universal rules, I'm told, for how to truly honor Rosh Hashanah in terms of work/power/energy. I'm going to TRY to not use any electricity or handle any money and will only be driving to/from temple happenings and I'm going to fast for as much of the 48 hours as I can.

9) One of my favorite Jewish foods (going all the way back to my college days) - the challah - gets a twist (that is an intentional pun, I don't care what you think of it) by going to the ROUND vs. long/braided form. I can't eat too much challah (because of the sweeteners in it) but I gladly partake every Friday evening at oneg and will be again this holiday.

10) The High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) are often clumped together as a season of reflection but they are separate and distinct occassions. I'll prattle on about Yom Kippur in about a week. You've been warned.

Happy New Year, y'uns. May your apples - and the year ahead - be sweet!

EDITOR'S NOTE - NO posts until Sunday in honor of the holiday (unless I get motivated on Saturday).