Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shanah Tovah!

Apples and honey: the traditional treat eaten on Rosh Hashanah
to express the hope that the new year will be sweet.
L'Shanah Tovah--Happy New Year!

Forces beyond my control again conspired to keep me away from Rosh Hashanah services again tonight. Which is a shame. The Interfaith Families Project is putting on its own Rosh Hashanah service for the first time tonight. They have brought so much to my family's life and I am thrilled to be involved with them. (Check out the article in today's Washington Post about some other families like mine that are worship with IFFP.) But I celebrated with my family with the traditional apples and honey, spent some time with the kids as they painted. All in all, it was a good way to mark the beginning of the Jewish year.

Being in an interfaith family, I think often about Rosh Hashanah and its meaning. I like the idea of a "birthday" or literally "head of the year," as the Hebrew name for the holiday means. I've never really marked years on January 1st, or on my birthday. Rosh Hashanah has been much more of a signpost of the beginning of things for me. It's when the school year started, and when the jobs I had been in still felt fresh and new. The idea of taking stock was always very appealing to me. And, as Joseph Campbell tells us, the theme of rebirth and renewal at the beginning of the year is a most ancient one.

Traditionally, the Jewish New Year marks the number of years since the Creation. So I hope that the year 5771 brings greater understanding among people of different faiths (Jewish, Christian and Muslim); that our society nurses itself closer to economic and social health; and that we all stay safe, happy and healthy. That's my hope. May it be a year as sweet as the apples and honey that we shared tonight.

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