Jewish New Year came early this year. Every year it falls on a different date because the holidays are based on the 10 month Jewish Calendar. It begins on the Jewish Calendar in the 7th month, Tishrei, which typically falls in September or October on the Gregorian calendar. It is believed to have begun as far back as 6th century BC. Ever wonder what to say on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when you meet a Jewish person? The Jewish New Year is not just about vowing new goals to lose weight or work out at the gym.
This holiday holds several meanings. First, Rosh Hashana itself translates to ‘Head (rosh) of a year’ (shana). This is a time of reflection and a time to make amends for things that went wrong in the past year. It’s a time to reset our footsteps. We use the greeting, ‘Shana Tova’, meaning Good Year.
This year, Rosh Hashana falls on the Hebrew Calendar year of 5782, beginning at sundown Monday September 6th for two days and nights we celebrate, ending on Wednesday night but it lasts for ten days and on the 10th night, the holiest holiday of all begins – Yom Kippur, where the fast begins at sundown and lasts til the following night sundown, where we traditionally share a family meal to ‘break the fast’. Yom Kippur is the day we atone for past sins. Sweets are served – traditionally apple slices to dip in honey to hope for a sweet new year after the meal to break the fast.
Rosh Hashana is also a celebration of creation, sometimes referred to as the ‘birthday of the world’. This is when God made the covenant with man, creating Adam and Eve. We sound the shofar – an ancient Jewish musical horn made from a ram’s horn, at the close of Yom Kippur. The shofar was used to announce important Jewish public and religious occasions in biblical times to announce the Sabbath, the new moon and for all important public announcements.
Different types of traditional dishes are prepared on the new year. Many sweet items are placed on the table to indulge in a sweet new year. On this occasion people meet their friends and relatives at gatherings and congratulate them. On the special occasion of the Jewish New Year, people greet each other wishing all a very Happy Rosh Hashanah. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
But this holiday will be different. I usually keep my two cents to myself, or only share with an intimate friend, but I have nobody to answer to anymore. I have clearly been shown that I matter not, to family. Calling a spade a spade here. When someone loses the love of their life and the only phone calls, letters, messages come from friends, that paints a definitive story. Oh, maybe once or twice a text will come in out of a sense of obligation, but really, my family are my tribe of friends here and the few good friends here at home.
This holiday has smacked me right in the solar plexus. The only family I have left are one elusive brother, who did call me, btw, to wish me a Happy New Year. I just laughed. He was getting ready for his family gathering, and despite my sullen tone, and letting him know how I felt, there was no extended invitation. My niece and great niece are what I hold on to as precious family cargo. They went to her mother’s (my sister) last night for a gathering and will be coming over later today for a little cooking and getting together. Those girls never forget their Aunty Debby and I love them like they’re mine. So that’s the size of my family circle.
I was feeling quite blue yesterday about the whole goddamned shameful situation, and not bad enough that at this holiday time I am alone without my husband who was my best friend and other half. We did everything together. In the past, when my family would once again leave a welt on my feelings, my Puppy always knew how to pick me up, swear a few profanities about the way I was always treated, and remind me, “You will always have me Cub.” Except, I don’t anymore.
I typically don’t like to make waves and spill ugly truths publicly, but hey, I’m a nonfiction writer who writes from the heart. And as one who has so much inside she has yet to share and was always so worried about minding her p’s and q’s as not to offend culprits, I’m in a different life now, and I’m no longer taking punches without speaking up. So, while everyone Jewish is busy spreading their Shana Tovas around social media, I decided not to post phony wishes about wonderful family gatherings, pretending I’m okay with things. Because, clearly I am not. Here’s what I posted on Fakebook:
My first Jewish New Year in my life I’ve ever spent alone. As an orphan and widow, I won’t be celebrating. This was once a joyous holiday for me when my father was alive, is when it really meant something to me, when even though family didn’t always get along, we got together for the holidays. Those days are longgggggggggggggg gone and so are my father and my husband, whom I always had to celebrate with on this holiday, which now no longer holds an ounce of meaning to me. Wishing those who celebrate, Shana Tova. For me, I could easily call it Passover – I’ll take a pass on this one. My Shana Tovas are being sent directly to heaven, where the two most important men in my lifetime now reside.
I loved this quote from Anne Lamott since I read that book 8 years ago:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Below are two videos that show the history of how this holiday came to be.
How the rituals began
What’s the big deal about Rosh Hashana
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you who celebrate in the Jewish faith, a Happy New Year.