I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began at sunset tonight. It is the time of year in which those who follow the faith tradition step into a new year. It also is considered the first of the Days of Awe with leads to Yom Kippur (a.k.a. The Day of Atonement). I prefer to call it the Day of At-Onement, since it reminds me that we are One with All of creation, including that which we might consider the creator and sustainer of love. Some are at ease using the name God, some prefer, Spirit, Divine, Higher Power, Allah, Yahweh, or the Beloved. I refer to that essence as ”God, Goddess, All That Is’. As a child, I attended services with my parents that often felt like an ordeal, sitting in the synagogue as prayers were recited that were familiar, but felt repetitious. I still know them by heart, after all these years. I have not attended High Holy Day services in years, preferring to engage in my own rituals of reading, prayer, and meditation. I know that the God of My Understanding can hear me, without being in a particular edifice. We dip apples in honey as a symbol of sweetness.
One of the components of the services is the wish, May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life for a Sweet New Year. L’shana Tovah is the Hebrew greeting people offer each other. It puzzled me as a child and to this day, as I am about to turn 61, it still is bewildering. Does it mean that those who have had a loss, illness, relationship shifts, injury, financial loss or death, somehow, were not on God’s good side? I don’t think so. Does it mean if you do acts of kindness and compassion, you will have all of your wishes granted by the Divine? I still don’t think so.
How about this idea…instead of expecting an energy or entity, depending on how you view the One, to calligraph your name all elegantly, that you pick up your own pen and write your own name into the Book Life. You have the ability to do that, you know. Consider what that kind of existence would look like. Who would you meet, how would you interact with strangers who could turn into loved ones? How would you face challenges and change? What might you do to realize that your history need not be your destiny?
I view this holiday time as an annual inventory, reckoning, and amends. We ask to be forgiven if we have caused any harm and accept forgiveness from others who offer it to us. Here are some questions: How do you determine if you have ‘done someone wrong’? Is it a matter of perception? Just because someone feels wronged, does it mean you were the instrument of their feelings? Where do we draw the line of responsibility for the perspective of others? For so many years, as a co-dependent caregiver, I felt a need to kiss the boo-boos and make them better, whether or not I had influenced their feelings. I apologized for things I had no responsibility for. I took on the pain of others. I am getting ever more clear about what is mine and what is not, to take on. I can’t fix the past. I can’t make anyone see life through different lenses. It’s an inside job. What I can do is wish them peace as they make their own way through their own journey. Wishing all a sweet new year.