I envy my Jewish friends on this High Holy night, and want to wish them Shana Tovah — Happy New Year. I'll use this moment in the Jewish calendar, September 30-October 1, 5768 (2008-2009), to think about newness, tradition, and reflection.
My source of information about Roshashana tonight is the Shiksapedia. (Thank you, Marilyn!) Here's my little synopsis: Roshashana and Yom Kippur are called the High Holy Days, or High Holidays, lasting ten days in all. These are days of Awe, when reverence mixes with fear and wonder.
At synagogue services over the two days of Roshashana, the shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown many times over. It's a call to awaken the soul.
The High Holy Days are a time of reflection, repentance, and forgiveness. On Roshashana God opens the Book of Life and the Book of Death, and on Yom Kippur he seals your name in the Book, determining whether you will have a good or a bad year.
Food traditions include dipping apples and challah in honey, in a wish for sweetness. Tzimmes is served, a casserole containing carrots, sweet potatoes, prunes, cinnamon, and honey. Marilyn writes: "Because this dish takes a while to prepare and cook, there’s a cute Yiddish expression: 'Don’t make a tzimmes,' which means 'Don’t make a big deal out of it.'" (Click on tzimmes here to go to a chicken and winter squash version from a favorite food magazine, Eating Well.)
Now is a good time to 'make a big deal' (you hear that, Congress?). It's a moment to reflect on the best way to move forward, while acknowledging the end of life and the ways we are each written into a larger story.
What is your ram's horn? Get out there and awaken your soul! And may you have a good signing in the Book of Life.