September 16, 2013

5774: A New Year of Many Blessings

Posted in Judaism, Pop Culture at 12:07 am by chavalah

First off, in accordance with my resolution from JewishDC to take myself less seriously, I’m posting this parody that makes fun of my beloved Hunger Games franchise and even Yom Kippur itself. (Both clever and hilarious, but that ending…kinda enforcing bad stereotypes, no? :P)

(By the way, still kvelling over the news that Julianne Moore is officially cast as President Coin in the Mockingjay films, and the Catching Fire premiere is only 67 days away. :D:D:D Not that anyone is keeping count.)

Never has the metaphor of the gates shutting on an old year and opening to new opportunities in the new felt more real to me. 5773 saw my graduation from library science school, and the start of my first full time job in more than 3 years. In 5774, baruch hashem, my first niece will be born. And I have even more good news to share, which I will hopefully disclose on my writing blog later this week. 😀

The synagogue to which I belong, Adas Israel, has also gone through some huge structural changes this year; I hadn’t been in months, and when I came for Erev Rosh Hashanah it was like stepping into a different building. The first floor is virtually unrecognizable, and the new spaces are wider and brighter. The main sanctuary is the most changed, and I found it majestic; the huge, wooden arc of the covenant, set in the middle of a stone wall, almost makes it feel like the site of the ancient Temple. Maybe I’m being too imaginative, but those acoustics…wow. 😛

At home, my parents spent Yom Kippur literally flushing out the old in my life and welcoming in the new by packing up my childhood bedroom and moving different furniture in. It’s a difficult process for me to take, considering that much of my furniture and other belongings will be sold, trashed or given away, but I understand the importance of my parents making changes to their house for the sake of our new, enlarged family. Perhaps there’s no better time to accept moving on from the past to embrace the future.

And at the young professional breakfast, where I usually slip in quietly for a bagel then leave to go home, I actually met and exchanged email addys with someone new! One of my personal traits I struggle with most is my trepidation in putting myself out there socially, so I’m glad I took the risk.

Today, I met a group of Jewish women for brunch and listened to their stories about how they spent the holidays. It strikes me as usual that Judaism, for most “born Jews,” is a family affair. It’s as much about going to your aunt’s house for the breakfast as it is about the services. I often feel cut off (and I feel sympathy for converts,) because my Jewish family is predominately non-practicing, and the High Holidays, for me, are largely a private affair.

In less than a week Sukkot will be upon us, and I’m deciding if I want to do anything for it. Far fewer Jews, even affiliated ones, go out of their way for this holiday. Living in an apartment as I do, I’ve never built a sukkah. I’m debating how much meaning this holiday really holds for me.

It’s funny how things change with time. Growing up, I did celebrate major Jewish holidays and all I remember about Yom Kippur is being miserable, hungry and hiding in the synagogue parking lot. Now the High Holidays hold the most personal meaning for me. Contrasted with Sukkot, though I’m uncertain how this week fits into my adult life, I only have fond memories from childhood. On the day of sukkah decorating, my temple’s entire Sunday School would traipse to a member’s house where we would hold classes in various rooms and make paper chain decorations. The adults would build and then we would drape. For a kid who didn’t find much meaning in Judaism, Sukkot and Purim (where we’d be back again, baking hamentaschen,) were fun and magical.

The years pass, and the gates close on the old and open to the new. Shana tova.

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