September – Back to School – Reflection

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​It’s not so much the month of September that I love but what it brings combined with the back to school season. While October is my favorite month (more on that tomorrow), ultimately this is my favorite time of the year from September and Back to School until the end of the year. I find it more of a renewal time of year than the January new year or spring when we all come out of our winter cocoons and spring clean.

We have a much more focused energy on fall cleaning, getting ready for the rest of the year. Clearing out the clutter for homework spaces and new school supplies (one of my weaknesses), earlier dinner and groceries in the house, bath schedules, physical, but also mental space.

It’s time to settle down and ease into our semi-hibernation.

We’re also getting ready for the holidays. Getting it clean and straightened and maintaining it for the myriad of family gatherings that are happening between now and the end of the year. Our outside gets decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and caution tape, spiders and witches. We move our decorating talents inside for Thanksgiving. Cornucopias, squashes, oranges and browns, table runners and lap blankets. Fall is applepicking, apple pie, chutney, tarts, or just a cold, crispy snap of an apple in the orchard.

I always find the Jewish New Year a time to reflect, think, and read. No work means settling down with a cup of tea, a buttered slice of challah and a pile of books. Yom Kippur brings the fasting and the prayer; time to atone and forgive; asking for forgiveness and offering it. Forgiving ourselves.

For us politicos, especially this year, we’re gearing up for an election, getting out the vote, promoting our candidates and our values.

School supplies, the Hogwarts Express, leaves changing colors and falling gently to the browning grass, Christmas card lists, buying stamps, printing return address labels, designing Halloween costumes and cosplays, Thanksgiving shopping and organizing recipe cards.

If we could carry fall with us all year, the world (and our worlds) would be a better place.

Books Recs for Rosh Hashanah

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I’ve mentioned before that I always read on the Rosh Hashanah holiday. I am currently either in the middle of or just about to begin three books. I’ll also include ones that I’ve finished recently.

1776 – by David McCullough

1984 – by George Orwell

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – by Malcolm X with Alex Haley

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – by Trevor Noah

The Children – by David Halberstam

Cronkite – by Douglas Brinkley

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention – by Manning Marable

Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet – by Lyndal Roper

Read my Pins – by Madeline Albright

The Handmaid’s Tale – by Margaret Atwood

The Princess Diarist – by Carrie Fisher

The Zookeeper’s Wife – by Diane Ackerman

50-20 – Temple

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I recently found myself in Temple for my friends’ daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.It is at once familiar and strange to me. As a child, I went to shul or school twice a week, but there were no services with them. It was the learning of the language, the history, the tradition, and I loved it. I went with my cousins who were my best friends and neighbors. When we all moved, they to Florida, we to Long Island, I went to a more religious center that I did not like, but was lucky enough to find my old teacher, Mr. Baran and went back to the traditional school that I loved so much.

This recent time in Temple was more enriched by my attending Catholic Mass than any other thing I can think of. I suddenly understood some of the ritual that was never explained to me as a child.

When the Cantor sang, Oh-ya-say-Shalom-bin-romav, I began to sing along. I was amazed to discover that I knew every word, and wished that the song would go on forever because it brought me to a childhood place that I thought was lost.

It reminded me of the High Holidays in Queens. The High Holiday services required tickets. All of us children were left in the parking lot while our parents went in to pray at the multi-hour service. I was one of the older kids at seven or eight.

We stayed on the warm asphalt, playing jump rope and hopscotch in our Saturday best. For a long time I thought  I made up this memory, but in talking to my cousins recently they remember it exactly the way that I do, so it must have happened. We were left to our own devices and on occasion someone would come out from the temple and shush us. We had the foresight to look chagrined, but as soon as the doors closed again, we went right back to our playing, eventually getting loud enough for someone else to come out and chastise us.

It was like that every year until we moved.

Mixed Feelings (Rosh Hashanah)

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I have mixed feelings about Rosh Hashanah this year.

I had planned on observing it and keeping the kids home from school on the first day of the holiday, but it wasn’t on my calendar and I’ve made a committment to drive on of the elderly ladies to our memoir workshop, which is on Thursday (the first day of the holiday). I thought of maybe observing the second day instead of the first, but if I make a nice holiday dinner on Thursday, my husband won’t be home because he’s going to the high school for back to school night.

I may have to split the difference and do parts of each day. Have the dinner tomorrow night, go the workshop and then come home and continue with my own observance.

The liturgical year also starts in the fall, closer to November I think, I’d have to check, but that just reinforces my beliefs that becoming Catholic is an extension of my Jewish life, especially if you look at the New Testament as a part II, then my being Catholic after being Jewish is also a part II, a next chapter.

Once you are aware of all of the holidays, you can truly see the overlap, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, etc. I actually gave my take on Passover/The Last Supper to one of the presenters at the Spring Enrichment. It’s nice to be able to contribute with something I kind of know.

It’s also one of the reasons that I think joining the adult enrichment ministry is a good fit for me.