Ah Rosh Hashanah. No, I didn’t just sneeze on the keyboard. That’s what today is. Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year. The start of the year 5771. (We, unlike the rest of you, started counting BEFORE Jesus. LONG before.)
It’s kind of an odd holiday. You’re supposed to eat apples with honey, and people use a ram’s horn as an instrument. Literally. It’s called a shofar. And it kinda sounds like an out-of-tune airhorn.
But in a lot of ways, the Jewish New Year is better than New Year’s Eve. It’s cheaper (wow, Jewish stereotype or what?), you don’t feel as crappy the next day, and you’re forgiven for all the bad stuff you did in the past year.
Yup, you get a clean slate every year in Judaism. And you’re SUPPOSED to get drunk on the weekends for Shabbat. Greatest religion ever or what? I had a lot of non-Jewish friends in college who got very religious all of a sudden when I told them about those aspects of being a member of the tribe.
Of course, it’s also one of the two holidays that I wind up in synagogue for. In a good year, I spend more time a Springsteen shows than at shul.
This was not a good year. He’s not touring. We all know what I’ll be praying that 5771 brings today!
For a real publishing contract for my book! Come on, I’m not going to PRAY for Bruce to tour… although, Big Man, I HAVE had a rough couple of years. A new album in 5771 could help. I’m just saying… (And by Big Man, I mean Clarence Clemons. Duh. He WAS one of the three Most Important People in the Universe in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for a REASON!)
Synagogue is not exactly my favorite place to be. I mean, I’d rather be there than school most days. But my mom does her best to make sure I don’t enjoy it.
By which I mean, I’m not allowed to sit next to my dad because we “cause trouble.”
This rule has been in effect for my entire life, so I’m not sure when she decided that letting us sit together was a problem. And a couple of times we managed to convince her that we’d behave better if we COULD sit together, because then we wouldn’t have to talk over her. And we proved that we were right, but mom never seems to remember that, so she insists on sitting between us and shushing us whenever we talk.
And sometimes we NEED to talk. For example, we HAVE to make Highway 61 Revisited jokes during the Torah portion every year because it’s the part where “God said to Abraham kill me a son.” That’s ACTUALLY the part we’re reading on Rosh Hashanah! How could we NOT start quoting that song?
But my biggest problem is that I’m way too ADD to sit still in synagogue for the full amount of time. It’s been a problem my whole life. I need something to do with my hands, or else I drive everyone around me nuts. (And boys, do NOT insert a dirty pun here! We’re NOT talking about me sitting on the sofa or in a movie theater. It’s SYNAGOGUE. You’re going to hell. Wait. Jews don’t believe in hell. Crap.)
In college, I used to bring knitting to my classes so that I could pay attention. They frown on that in synagogue. When I was little, my mom would bring toys for me. But she says I’m too old for that now. I used to bring myself silly putty and make putty people of the other congregation members around us, then squish them. But mom said I can’t do that anymore either.
So I turn to origami.
They always give us some random papers when we go in, which always end up being fortune tellers and sailboats and paper airplanes during the rabbi’s sermon. It doesn’t mean I’m not listening. In fact, it means that I AM listening! If I wasn’t doing anything, I’d be daydreaming. And I like our synagogue’s rabbi. So I make origami as a sign of respect. And I’m generous, I always give what I make to my parents. Who think I’m an idiot.
Granted, mom might be so hard on me in shul because dad insists that we pay extra to get the seats in the front. He doesn’t seem to get that unlike a Springsteen show, how close you are in synagogue really doesn’t make much of a difference.
So L’Shana Tova to my fellow Jews out there, and to everyone else, just so you know, be nice to us on the next Jewish holiday (Yom Kippur—next Friday night through Saturday night). That’s the one where we can’t eat or drink for 24 hours. And while I don’t drink coffee, so I’m okay without caffeine, I won’t be held responsible if you are killed and eaten by one of my parents, who turn into fire-breathing monsters without their daily 79 million cups of coffee.
But the good news is that after next week, I’ll have a whole year to learn how to make new origami to start the year 5772 out on the right foot.
And mom and dad, in the spirit of the holiday (and so I don’t spend 5771 being punished), I’m sorry for making fun of you. Please don’t kill me with your fire breath on Yom Kippur!