Rosh Hashanah is a time for Jews around the world to celebrate the beginning of the new year. The 10 days following Rosh Hashanah leading up to Yom Kippur are a time for reflection, for taking stock of our lives and asking forgiveness for any harm our
neuroses actions may have caused our loved ones this year. It’s a time to be thankful for all that is wonderful in our lives and take a soul inventory to examine the ways we want to live our lives in the coming year.
It is also a time to get together and eat noodle kugel in all its endless varieties and witness the outfits that our fellow Jews thought would be okay to wear to high holiday services. I’ve never asked God specifically (we only talk about important things), but I feel fairly confident that she doesn’t like tube dresses worn in synagogue, or anywhere besides pool parties and cookouts for that matter, really. Are you trying to get written in The Book of Life or nah?
What was I saying?
When I was little, high holiday services meant wearing uncomfortable shiny shoes and attending services that lasted 15 hours. Now that I am mostly grown, they are only like 3 hours and I actually look forward to them. The choir sings beautiful melodies that are only sung once a year, the Rabbi gives a powerful sermon and my mom side-eyes the hell out of anyone who talks during the service. If you’ve never been the recipient of my mom’s side-eye, trust that it is legendary. I truly learned from one of the best. She looks sweet (she is the best) and she is like the Mayor of the synagogue, but she will shoot eyeball daggers at anyone, silent meditation or otherwise, she doesn’t care. She is not above “shush-ing” a whole row of Jews, whether you recently returned from your first summer at Jew camp or you’re the age where you can waddle your adorable, plump self up to the front of the line at the Kiddush lunch and no one can say shit about it.
Where was I again?
Rosh Hashanah is a time to start with a clean slate. God decides which of us gets to stick around for another year.
Who shall live and who shall die?
Who shall perish by water and who by fire?
Who shall die by sword and who by being asked personal questions about their life by their parents’ friends?
For us Jews, most of our holidays generally follow the old adage of “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat”. But then 100 years ago, Bubbies and Zaydes held a meeting and decided that holidays should also be a time for people that haven’t seen you since you were an adorable pre-schooler with a construction paper dreidel taped to your head or angsty preteen preparing for your Bat Mitzvah to be able to ask young people questions about the disappointments their lives have become.
Then they wrapped up the cookies from the meeting and stuffed them into their pocketbooks. Ya know, just a little sweet for later.
These questions will likely be familiar to any young person with social anxiety who has ever sat around a Seder table (or Thanksgiving table) at a time in their life when they don’t “sound great on paper”, at least by Jewish Mother standards? ( i.e. dropping out of college, being unemployed, unmarried, childless, “creative”, interested in activities like fire-spinning or belly dancing or Burning Man or bath salts or simply lacking in decision-making skills).
BTW, the person I just described sounds totally awesome.
These are the same
yentas well-meaning people that have harassed me for years with seemingly innocent questions such as:
“What do you want to do next year after high school?”, (I don’t know, I’m only 17).
“Really, you aren’t gonna go to college?”, (Dude, I’m barely graduating high school).
“Oh, so…you’re just working at Starbucks in L.A.??”, (OMG, I have a job with health insurance, back off).
“Are you still dating that brown boy?” (He has a name and yes, I am, thank you).
And even after I decided to go to college at age 26, (which luckily bought me some time from playing “20 Questions: Self-Esteem Busters Edition”) I still was not safe from the ultimate, mother of all questions:
“SO, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO AFTER YOU GRADUATE?” (Hug my degree and be real proud of myself)
“And why aren’t you dating anyone?” Umm, mostly because of my personality.
And you’re just like, damn, can I enjoy my life for like, 2 seconds, and also can someone please pass the kugel? No, not that one, the one with the cranberries.
Shana Tovah, everybody.