There are no firecrackers on the Jewish new year, nor do we drink to abandon. The New Year is a two day holiday. There are banquets, and formal get togethers with friends and family. People wear their best clothes, and eat their favorite foods. The observant visit the synagogue, for the prayers, for the familiar songs, and for the social interaction. The traditional calls of the ram’s horn inspire thoughts of life and death, and are meant to awaken us from the routine… and taking things for granted. Some folks come just to hear these calls which have been part of the new year’s celebration for over 3000 years.
Those who would like to read more about the holiday, might find it interesting to read what I posted last year: https://thehumanpicture.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/happy-new-year/
We start the meal by dipping pieces of bread into honey. May it be a sweet year. For an appetizer, we may eat a slice of cold fish with a sauce based on horse radish and beets. And there are usually more items offered than I have the strength to try. By the time we finish with one of these banquets, it is sometimes difficult to get on our feet again. So it is also quite customary to take a walk after the feast. After the evening meal, it often happens that everyone finishes at about the same time, and you see the whole neighborhood out on the street in their finest clothes, walking up and down the streets just to limber up. And after the walk, we’re back at home… and wouldn’t you know it… there’s a fruit salad. Because we didn’t have room for it earlier.
But this holiday is not just about celebration. A lot of attention is devoted to soul searching, and repentance for the things we’ve done wrong. The ten days from New Year’s to the day of Atonement, are called ‘the terrible days’ because they are dedicated to self examination (but they’re not really so terrible). We ask our friends to forgive us before we ask that of God. And it is a time of renewal in the country. After the hot summer, we have some cool breezes blowing through, and in the evening it is just perfect for walking. Soon, the rains will come (we hope).
As I wrote earlier, we started this week with a beautiful celebration in one of the fine neighborhoods of our city. The summer is almost over. The main street was cordoned off, and there was an arts and crafts fair, all kinds of delicacies were sold to passers by, and there were four musical stages where one performance followed another as afternoon grew into evening. Israeli music, folk, and Jazz. And there were delicious smells in the air, as the local restaurants were joined by some enterprising stalls, set up just for this event, and the offerings were varied. You could eat traditional food, and barbeque… all the way to Thai and Asian foods. There was an array of Israeli beers. And of course there was cotton candy, and popcorn. The children were all enjoying themselves, and many people were buying new and beautiful objects… some of which we’d never seen till that very day.
I had the pleasure of getting together with dear friends that I just do not see enough. Including a couple who had a stall at the fair. Though I got a little tired before I left, there was a constant stream of new entertainment that I enjoyed so much, it was hard for me to leave. I had a miniature hamburger, just to keep on going… and then finally said my goodbyes, walked back to my car, and went home.
I would like to wish all my friends and readers, a beautiful sweet new year. May it be a year of learning and growth, health and financial security, and friendship and love. And peace…