L’Shanah Tovah — Happy New Year!
September 29, 2011 —
As summer gives way to fall, I pause and reflect. Although I do not spend much time in temple these days, the Jewish traditions I grew up with still resonate. Rosh Hashanah is “One of two High Holidays in the Jewish religion, the other being Yom Kippur, which occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah begins (this year, Thursday, September 29). During the High Holidays, Jews cleanse their soul and get the chance to start fresh with an unburdened conscience and the intention of doing better in the coming year,” (www.howstuff works.com).
Even though I’m not prone to believing in sin, per se, a fresh start is appealing, and an opportunity to wipe the slate clean of whatever transgressions I might think I’ve made is welcome. One of the most prominent themes of the holiday revolves around the symbolic “Book of Life.” An internet search reveals that “A Jew’s life depends on whether or not he or she decides to make amends during the holiday period through the means of repentance (teshuvah), prayer (tfiloh) and charity (tzedkah). It is a key moment to reflect on past mistakes and resolve (in front of God) to not repeat them in the coming year” (www.wikipedia.com).
Not wishing to dwell on some of the poor choices I may have made during the last year, I choose instead to embrace the tradition of “casting my sins upon the water” and move on. Even though I have worked hard at ignoring the concept of “Jewish Guilt” (and yes, my mother was an expert), I honor this tradition every year, just in case. Pondering the past is a great way to make informed decisions for my future, so I resolve to spend the next 10 days in deep thought (it could happen!) and contemplation, praying (for lack of a better word) that the meditative state will serve to make me a better person.
Apparently, examining the past in order to create a better future is not relegated to a “chosen few” but more of a universal theme, as exemplified by actor/dancer/writer Nora Brown’s one-woman show “Dad Doesn’t Dance,” which was presented at the Krause Recital Hall (www.artsalliancesite.org) in Narrowsburg, NY over the weekend.