Last night at sundown (September 22, 2006), the Jewish people heralded in another New Year. Making this year 5767.
This is an awful long time in the calendar of humanity.
Imagine: a religion that dates back almost 6,000 years, and much of the world still believes that we Jews are illegitimate.
Anne and I sat with our favorite aunt, uncle and a few cousins at our aunt and uncle’s Rosh Hashanah supper in Montreal last night.
Before the meal, we blessed the wine and bread, giving thanks for the “blessings” we received in the past year. And remembering those who are not with us going into the New Year. And looking forward to the coming year.
This is the same exercise practiced in virtually every Jewish household worldwide. And remarkably, the food we eat is more or less the same type of food that other Jews will eat wherever Ashkenazi (of European decent) Jews observe the New Year.
The Sephardim Jews do the same in their own unique North African way.
At Synagogue services everywhere, Jews pray for all things normal, including health, happiness, prosperity, wisdom and PEACE.
Yes – we REALLY pray for peace.
We pray that our enemies will stop being our enemies. And we pray that we have the intestinal fortitude to do whatever has to be done to survive. But not to hate or wish harm to those who are not as kind in thoughts and deeds towards us, as we are towards them.
At our table we covered a full gamut of topics from sports, world finance, the cost of everything, politics and gossip. It was all there just like it was when I was little boy.
As a young boy sitting at my parents’ Rosh Hashanah table, I remember listening to the dozen(s) or more adults raucously debating, arguing and laughing, all at the same time, while course after course of delicious traditional Jewish food was served by my beaming mother.
I didn’t know how they did it, but everyone seemed to be talking at the same time covering different subjects. And when one debate seemed more interesting than the one you were currently having, you just turned around and entered into the new fray.
And even though some of the debates and opposing opinions were very aggressive, no one ever left the table in anger, simply because the Jewish way is to argue everything from every perspective. And then eat.
Or better yet, argue while eating.
Now that I and my cousins are in our mid fifties, we’re the ones carrying on this tradition of keeping the Rosh Hashanah feast alive with noisy debate.
If only our enemies could join us for a Rosh Hashanah feast, maybe they wouldn’t hate us and themselves as much as they do?
Anne and I will be spending the second night of Rosh Hashanah doing it all over again at my sister and brother-in-law’s house (also in Montreal) tonight.
And even though I’m still stuffed from last night’s supper, I can hardly wait to gorge myself again tonight.
I wish all of the world the kind of warmth and best hopes for the future that we experience at our Rosh Hashanah suppers. I wish everyone peace and understanding.
And after FIVE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN years of Jewish continuance on this planet, I wish for many more to come.
HAPPY 5767th ROSH HASHANAH!