Today is Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish New Year. It began Sun., Sept. 9th, 2018, at sundown and ends on Tues., Sept. 11th at sundown. This is the first year since I converted in 1994 that I am not attending a service at a synagogue. Hubby and I took a mini-vacay during this time because the dates fit our schedules. We both really needed a get-away from everyday life so we traded the tranquility of the marina for the Anderson Valley vineyards.
Our cottage (Sheep Dung Properties) is tiny and simple with a well equipped kitchen and a comfy bed, but it’s the backyard that satisfies our need for pure relaxation. We’re enjoying our meals sitting side by side at the picnic table that overlooks a vineyard and rolling hills, shaded by a canopy of old-growth oak trees. A Japanese soaking tub, lounge chairs and a hammock are at our disposal, and we are well-stocked with cold drinks and snacks. There are no neighbors and besides the birds and leaves rustling in the wind, there is just the faint sound in the distance of the little Boonville town going about it’s weekday business.
Judaism is a kind religion and where or how one observes any holiday isn’t the focus; it’s the intention that matters. So although I’m not in a traditional sanctuary, I am most definitely with God.
Today is the first of the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days, and referred to as the “Days of Awe.” It is a time where Jews are encouraged to turn within and reflect on the past year. Jews are story-tellers and debaters and everyone has their own definition of the holidays and every other aspect of Judaism. Here’s my version.
When explaining this sacred time to non-Jews, I often call it “Jewish Confession.” On Rosh Hashanah the gates of Heaven are flung open in celebration of the birth of the world. It was on this day that God created Adam and Eve. Earth continues to exist because God so desires and we give thanks for every turn of a new year.
During the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we seek out those we have wronged and ask for forgiveness with pure intention. It is our belief that no one can forgive us for our wrongs except for the ones whom we have wronged. If a person cannot be reached or has died, we can still pray to God for forgiveness. On Yom Kippur, the gates of Heaven close for another year. If we have made proper amends, our name is inscribed in the Book of Life. When we are called to God in death, we hope that our list of good outweighs that of unrepentant sins.
During the next 10 days I will share my journey from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur 5779. I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own observance if you’re Jewish, or insights you have taken away from my ramblings from non-Jews. It is my intention to share my faith and religion openly and never to force my beliefs on anyone else. I’ve been a Jew by choice for 24 years and always desire new ways to learn and deepen my faith.
On the first day, Rosh Hashanah, I spent the morning soaking in hot water in nature, mulling over my resolutions for the New Year. (Yes, we make resolutions just like the secular ones made on January 1st … guess who came up with the concept first?!) I decided to use this blog as my vehicle for sharing my faith, deepened even more so by the recent birth of my granddaughter and the horrible few days where my daughter hovered on the brink of death. Thanks to God, both mommy and child are now home and recovering with amazing speed.
After listening to ancient Hebrew melodies in the hammock, I went to my happy place: the kitchen. I spent hours prepping a sumptuous feast of traditional New Year foods while hubby soaked and dozed and listened to music. Now it’s time to relax and savor the sweetness of another trip around the sun ending and a new one about to begin.
L’Shanah Tovah … Wishing You a Good Year!