Running to the Rhythm of the Jewish Calendar

Well, I thought I was going to write my first post of the year about the end of summer and the beginning of what I call “Jewish Time” and all of a sudden we’re past Rosh Hashanah and in the midst of the Days of Awe. Which was kind of going to be my point – that for some of us, it’s the rhythm of the Jewish calendar that runs our lives, whether we realize it or not. There’s the annual discussion of whether the High Holy Days are “early” or “late” – would we ever recognize “right on time?” This year, of course, they seemed very early, and caught me unprepared. We were traveling, on a trip postponed from early this summer and returned in just enough time for me to prepare the holiday meals. (Although for the life of me, I can’t figure out how my local grocery store ran out of Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix AND canned whole cranberry sauce. It occurred to me that many of my fellow cooks are using the same recipes I am – 10 points to anyone who can figure out what I was making!)

 

And here’s a L’Shana Tovah to all of you who were organized and thoughtful enough to actually get out your New Year’s cards, and also to all of you, like me, who were too wrapped up in summer to look at the calendar and plan ahead! I also usually try to find a new book on a Jewish topic in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. I don’t have a new book, but I am making my way – slowly – through a wonderful book by Rabbi Mike Comins, “Making Prayer Real” which gathers advice and thought from fifty of today’s most influential rabbis on the topic of why Jewish prayer is difficult and how to address it. Judaism is so centered on our actions that we are sometimes not adept or are downright uncomfortable with contemplation or reflection in the context of congregational or individual prayer – further complicated by unfamiliarity with Hebrew. Even though it’s not a new book, it’s helping me work towards accessing a deeper spiritual connection to my Judaism, which compels so much of my own action.

 

The calendar dictates that I start thinking about a nourishing but not too heavy menu for Erev Yom Kippur and put together the noodle kugel I learned from Janice Epstein, z”l for break-the-fast. It also tells me that it is time to ask forgiveness from those whom I may have offended or harmed, and if this applies to any of you, please accept my apology. Finally, the calendar tells me it is time to be ready to start the organizational Jewish year, which does its own dance around the Jewish holidays, the earlier and later times for sunset on Shabbat, the rhythms of the Jewish lunar calendar that have sustained a people and a religion for thousands of years. In the coming weeks I’ll fill you in on upcoming events and on two amazing visits we made on our trip, to Budapest and Prague, more places where, despite the horrors of our history, Jewish life and the Jewish calendar also live on.

 

Wishing you and yours a g’mar chatimah tovah, a good seal in the Book of Life,

Leslie

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