So, Happy New Year! Wait a minute didn’t we just go through this a couple of months ago with all the praying, and eating, and family dynamics?
Well, this time around, there’s still the eating and the family…but most of the praying might revolve around who’s going to win the football game on the telly. The Day of Judgment transforms into the Day of Football! Which one requires you to sit still the longest?
Way back in the Fall, when we celebrated Rosh HaShanah, we paraded the Torah Scrolls around the Congregation, with everyone wearing their finest. In Philly, on New Year’s Day, we always have the Mummers parading while decked out in their exquisite costumes. Not quite the same. Let me know if you’d think that next year, I should add feathers and sequins to my High Holy Day kittel! (Just checking to see who’s really reading carefully!)
Some would say that Rosh HaShanah is a time for repentance, and reflecting on the recent year. Our secular celebration has a strong focus on those behaviors that should require repentance, like boozing, partying, and
trying to blot out the year just past. Perhaps that’s the difference between making Kiddush to bless our lives, versus getting drunk to forget them?
At the High Holy Days, we enjoyed singing the refrain of “Avinu Malkenu” during the service, until we got to the
hard words in Hebrew. This time of the year, at the stroke of midnight, we try to sing “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot (most people forget the middle verses, or even what they mean!) …For Auld Lang Syne” For me, it’s easier to remember and use the Hebrew phrases, than try to remember a song written in the 1700’s set to a Scottish folk tune!
In the Jewish mind, our Jewish New Year is a time to look at past mistakes, and plan changes in the New Year. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t. In our secular world, this also a time to make resolutions, and attempt to keep them ….at least until the Super Bowl. In both cases, it looks like we are making the same resolutions year after year. I guess we’re just human after all!
Let’s enjoy the wonders of both of our cultures and celebrate like its 5775 again! May our lives be filled with joy, celebration, and meaning. Shanah Tovah to 2015.
Gary M. Gans, D.Min.