Today is the start of the Jewish New Year 5782. The Jewish faith has been around for a very long time. Although I do not consider myself very religious I do embrace the traditions and cultural values that have been passed down from generation to generation. In this blogpost I will share a bit about this.
As a child this holiday was a time to reflect on the past year and changes we may make to start the next one. The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the time to think about things that we can do to become a better person in the upcoming year. This period is termed "The Days of Awe". It has been said that if one passed away during this time they would be considered holy. Time for proper repentance is opportunity for renewal for the next year by being "inscribed in the book of life".
I always looked at this as an opportunity for positive change and new beginnings. I would usually attend religious services with my family in Newton Mass, where I grew up. The sound of the Shofar was considered the awakening for this journey. Coincidentally the holiday was near the start of the academic school year. While in grade school this was a time to catch up with old friends we hadn't seen all summer. As a child the sense of renewal began with wearing your best and newest holiday outfit to Temple. (As a young age this did become a bit of a fashion show, however, it was a sign of new beginnings which became embedded in me throughout my life. )
After services it is customary to have a holiday feast. Often the meal would be a gathering of multiple generations of family and old recipes including brisket, kasha varnishkas, tsimmes, knishes, potato latkes or other traditional Jewish foods. Click here some recipes. It is customary to have a round sweet challah as the bread served during the meal. Of note, the above photo is the one I baked last night. Although we would arrive for the meal with a large appetite we would overindulge and end it with "we can't eat another thing".
As I grew older, the tradition continued first by attending services at UMass Hillel in college on years when, due to timing, it was difficult to return home to Newton. This became an opportunity to learn who else was part of the Jewish community on the college campus. This always gave me a sense of finding my "community". After college, until married, I would return to Newton to be with my parents and grandparents.
After I got married, the tradition continued. Sadly my Grandfather, who we always celebrated the holiday with passed away a few months after our wedding. The holiday began to have new meanings as it also became a time to reflect on close family members no longer with us. To commemorate them, we recite a series of prayers during the religious service. Also, it is customary to visit the cemetery during this holiday season to keep them as part of one's spiritual foundation. Visiting, I talk to their gravestones to update them on my life and reflect on the special memories shared during their lifetime.
The years have passed and the traditions have continued. I raised my family to celebrate with services, a holiday feast and of course new outfits. This pattern evolved until they grew up and fled our family nest. Over the past ten years we have had fewer generations older than I am with which to celebrate. This is a transition time and with this decline will soon come renewal. I am thrilled that one of my daughters will marry this year and see a family expansion in the future!!
Last year marked a major change to me personally to this pattern. At this time of reflection, I began to assess where my life was going and if I was happy with the status quo. I began to think about one's lifespan and the limited time we have on this planet.
One can follow the same pattern year after year, take the easy path for a smooth journey or step back and reroute. I knew I needed a new path. I was caught in a pattern that could no longer continue.
Although challenging at first, I now know this year was important. I have grown a lot and have learned a lot about myself and my own needs. I was always the one to lean upon to get things done in my family. I did not take much time for myself. I was totally off balance in my approach to many things. I felt somewhat stifled and unable to be true to myself. I felt stuck. I knew I had a more creative and more spiritual side that needed tapping into. I have been exploring this side of me over the past year.
It takes practice to keep balance. I am a yogi and have worked hard to find this balance. With this comes a much happier me and I look back at this past year now with gratitude. I hope you will take the time to see where you are and where you also are going. Change can be good if you allow it to enter your heart. I wish all of my readers a La Shana Tova 5872 and "May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life. "
Wendy recently began a new path as a freelance writer to support small businesses that service the real estate sector in addition to her role as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham. In addition, she will soon be publishing afirst book "Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground with My Daily Brew". Please check out her new website wendy-bornstein.