Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year!)
Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish new year -- begins tonight at sundown. This is my favorite holiday of them all, and I celebrate everything from Hallowe'en to National Peanut Butter Cookie Day!
Tonight represents not just the culmination of my chaotic summer at work, preparing for the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement on September 18). It is a celebration of both the completion of another year and the anticipation of a new one. What have you accomplished since the first of Tishri in the year 5770 (according to the Jewish calendar)? What goals do you have for this year, 5771? How have you, as a person, evolved? What have you contributed to the universe, both positive and negative?
Whereas New Year's celebrations in the secular world are all about football and hangovers and Dick Clark, in Judaism it is a time of both joy and introspection. There is a brief moment each year -- right before I leave work with everything completed to the best of my ability -- that I cherish. The white curtains have been hung in the Sanctuary, covering the ark that holds the beautiful Torah scrolls. Flowers have been placed by the bima ([BEE-muh] = altar), and 1000 empty seats (pews as well as rented chairs, since the High Holidays lure in folks who don't set foot in a religious institution all the rest of the year) await crowds of well-wishers.
Tonight will be full of song and celebration and lots of treats at the reception after services. People will dip apple slices into honey -- and the dish pictured above is my own apples 'n' honey serving dish -- in hopes of enjoying a sweet year. There will be grand festivities!
But in that brief moment I just mentioned there is only peace in the Sanctuary, where I sit alone and literally find sanctuary from the final hectic preparations. I always take a few moments to just assess where I am, how I got here, where I hope to be going. I offer thanks for the blessings I have received throughout the year, and am always grateful to realize how very many there have been even if I didn't necessarily register them at the moment they arrived. I offer thoughts of regret for my multitude of transgressions throughout the past year, always hoping that I will do better the next. And then I take a deep breath and go back out into the world, anticipating the excitement of the evening.
I wish you all a happy and hearty Shanah Tovah [shah-NAH toh-VAH] -- a very sweet new year ... :) May you be showered with blessings and abundance!!!
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