So it's that time of year again. It's September and the Jewish holidays are about to start. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, starts Sunday night at sundown. I'll once again be in shul (synagogue) and once again off the computer. It's during this time that G-d determines our fate for the year. That's why besides saying "Shanah tova u'metukah" (a good and sweet year), we also say "Gmar hatima tova" (may you be inscribed for a good year). Anyway, in this spirit I once again offer some personal reflections on the past year.
As during 5771, I feel that I've continued to deepen my connection to my Judaism and my Jewishness. It is a point that many fail to understand that Jewish is the ethnicity and Judaism is the religion. A common heritage and set of cultural practices helps bind together all of us that are Jewish. However, there are Jewish atheists and agnostics out there, as well as practitioners of the religion known as Judaism. Many of my friends are Jewish atheists and agnostics, but they are every bit as Jewish as me because of our shared heritage that does not know the boundaries of religious belief. As it is, it so happens that I am a Jew that practices Judaism.
During this year, I have kashered my house. There are two sets of everything, from silverware to dishes to pots and pans to utensils. One set is meat and one set is dairy. I observe the six-hour rule that says I can't have dairy for six hours after eating meat. I now wear a kippah, both as a reminder that G-d is above me at all times and also to display my Jewish pride. I am proud to be Jewish and to let the world know that I am Jewish.
This year, I will once again be in shul over Rosh Hashana and will once again be praying for friends and family and myself. I will be praying that my mom will finally get her kidney transplant, which I'm hoping is very, very soon. I'll be praying that other family members who have had health problems see improvements in their situation. I'll be praying that I finally find a job, although in the past month or so I've made the conscience decision to forego looking for a job in the immediate future so that I can take care of my mom. I am lucky enough that I can afford to make that decision at the current time; very few are that lucky.
Finally, because this is the time we repent for our wrongs during the past year, to those of you that I have hurt or offended, I ask your forgiveness. When I am in shul praying, I atone for my sins against G-d. Here, I atone for my sins and my wrongs committed against others. Please remember, I am only human. I am imperfect. I know that just as I have made mistakes during the past year, so too I will make mistakes again during the year that is about to begin. I can only hope that I repeat as few of those mistakes as possible, and that I make fewer of them during 5773 than I have during 5772.
To my fellow Jewish posters:
לשנה טובה ומתוקה (L'shana tova u'metuka)
A happy and sweet new year
May you and your loved ones be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
Here is President Obama's Rosh Hashana message:
And here's what I thought was a cute video, although it's in French, so you'll probably have to put on the English subtitles (like I did):