by Chaviva Edwards (Storrs, CT)
Tomorrow at sundown begins Rosh HaShanah, one of four Jewish new years, also THE Jewish New Year by practical terms. We feat this weekend and then, on Oct 1-2, we consider the trespasses of the past year; how we turned our backs in the field to a G-d so presently standing before us with openness.
I want to share a bit from my “A little joy a little oy” desk calendar. Every now and again it has something fruitful and funny. I always put my calendar a day ahead so I don’t get behind or confused when editing for tomorrow’s paper. In reality, I work a day ahead. But I was poking far ahead to see what the calendar had to offer, because I won’t be here this weekend because of the holiday. For Sept. 23, the calendar quotes Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels in his 2000 Rosh HaShanah sermon.
“… it’s time to put your hand in the hand of someone you love … and recognize that we only have a very short opportunity to be the humans upon the sand and not the pebbles. … It’s time to recognize that the real value of our lives is … experiencing the … seemingly insignificant things. It’s time to recognize that things don’t need to be the slickest … to be great … and appreciated. It’s time to repent but not wallow in repentance. … It’s time to take a stand for … what we believe. … It’s time to realize that we are as small and as very large as the pebble upon the sand, no matter how we count the years. Amen.”
I think it’s incredibly well written and speaks to the essence of the High Holy Days. I look back on the month of Elul at this point and think about a rebirth and renewal I wasn’t expecting. I’ve met someone who makes me feel alive and happy — someone who speaks to my heart without wanting to change me (Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li). As the new year approaches, I’m thinking about how life has handed me something precious, something to be truly thankful for as the new year approaches. Yom Kippur will give me a chance to consider the past year and some of the horrible, insane things that went on and that made me turn my eyes downward and away, into the dirt at my feet instead of the figure in the field. It’s funny how long and changing a year is and yet how we can catalogue its events like a shopping list. I intend to mark things off of the list and leave it in the dirt near my feet as I walk away from 5766 and into 5767.
In this week’s parshah, Moses sings to Am Yisrael, saying “Remember the days of old / Consider the years of many generations / Ask your father, and he will recount it to you / Your elders, and they will tell you” how G-d “found them in a desert land.” Moses tells them how G-d made them a people, chose them as His own and gave them a bountiful land. So I remember and give thanks for my people, past and present, not to mention the future of the Jewish nation.
Also something to consider: Ramadan begins on the second day of Rosh HaShanah. Two religions and nations in strife must share a day that happens to be holy in both spheres. I only hope that, with this in mind, perhaps the Middle East will sit still for a day, relishing in the gifts they’ve been given — the Jews for their Torah and Israel and the breath of life and the Muslims for the giving of the Koran to Muhammad. Neither religion or nation is blemish free. I’m not going to argue politics or history, for both peoples have committed crimes and acts that G-d would sooner mark us off than have to watch. But let us hope, and pray, that on Sept. 24 both groups — and all of those who live near — can calm their minds and hands to reach not for triggers but apples and honey.
Chaviva Edwards, currently residing in Storrs, Connecticut, is in her second year of the master’s program in Judaic studies at the University of Connecticut. In her past life, Chaviva was a copy editor for such publications as The Denver Post, The Daily Nebraskan, and The Washington Post. Alongside her master’s work, she is rekindling her insatiable desire to edit through special projects involving Judaism and Jewish topics. She is an avid photographer, devotee of her many blogs, and a Web 2.0 connoisseur.
This piece first appeared on Chaviva’s blog, Just Call Me Chaviva, www.kvetchingeditor.com , in September, 2006. It’s reprinted here with permission of the author.