Tonight’s sunset brings Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and according to the Torah, the “birthday of the world.”
I don’t know if it’s all the new school years or if it’s just embedded in my DNA, but fall indeed always feels to me like the switch-up in the cycle. Every Rosh Hashanah (literally, “head of the year,”) is a new rounding in the spiral of the miracle of human consciousness contained in time, marked by year after year after year of the shofar’s call and the reading of Jonah, the uncomfortable self-denial of Yom Kippur, the pleading and praying to be included in the Book of Life for one more go-round.
It always coincides with that first flush of fresh cool air, a crispness in the morning that causes a certain amnesia of the miserable humid Southern summer, as if Mother Nature—the sacred feminine Shekinah banished from the inside of the synagogue so long ago—is reminding us that we’ve been on her schedule all along.
My birthday always falls somewhere close to the High Holy Days (Kol Nidre kinda cramped my 40th birthday plans last year), making this up close-and-personal meeting with the past year’s actions and the upcoming goals for the new even more imminent. I don’t have too many regrets, though the looming specter of the book I have not yet written looms constantly. I have a good feeling, God willing, that 5773 will be the loop that finally gits ‘er done.
This year will also bring two incredible simchas into my sphere: My Brother the Doctor, after 39 years of making my mother wring her hands over whether he would ever find somebody (i.e., a Nice Jewish Girl who will love his mother) will marry his lovely beshert in November. My new sister-in-law, who is funny, French and doesn’t take anyone’s nonsense, also fits the bill of NJG as she was officially welcomed to the Tribe after completing the conversion process earlier this year.
She called me last week so delighted to have been invited to kindle the lights on the bima at synagogue this week, proud to be part of this meaningful and meshuggneh people called the Jews. I still get choked up at the thought that I have a new sister, someone who will love and care for my brother as well as be another daughter for my parents as they age. Feels like a pretty big blessing. And since my brother has made it a practice to buy the loudest and most obnoxious birthday gifts money can by for his nieces and nephews, I’m shopping for something nice for my new chihuahua-in-law to wear to the wedding.
Also this year, of course, brings the Event to Try A Jewish Mother’s Heart, the bar mitzvah of her first child. Thirteen times around the sun means he’s ready to shoulder a little bit of responsibility, or at least learn how to take out the garbage without kvetching. He’s doing his part, studying with his tutor and the rabbi and driving El Yenta Man and I crazy with his sullen tweenage attitude.
EYM and I are worrying over invitations and guest lists and caterers and budgets, trying to keep the sacred in the sassafrass of it all. It’s been giving me such anxiety lately that I’ve decided to put it all away for the next ten days to concentrate and celebrate and not burn the honey cakes. Again.
It seems like it all goes so fast, every turn around the coil accelerating a little more. Before I get swept up into another blessed cycle, let me wish you all peace of mind, health of body and richness of soul this 5773.
Happy Birthday, World. And L’Shanah Tovah Umetukah to us all ~