Last week I celebrated the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year. Unlike the American New Year, there are less sequins, less regretful hook-ups and less blockbuster movies staring Hollywood’s biggest celebrities (Can someone get Sandler on the line for me?). The Jewish New Year is a time of reflection; it is a time to think about all the shitty things you’ve done the past year, and to make plans to change your actions in the following one. So if those January 1st resolutions didn’t stick (and I can tell you, mine didn’t), it’s a chance to start over. Most Jews attend temple, as I did, and perform what I would imagine is similar to an exercise class at a senior citizen’s home (please rise, please sit, please rise…oh wait, there’s the torah, rise again!). I enjoy this time because it’s rare that I communicate with The Notorious G-O-D. This past year, I’ve pretty much only spoken with the big man while standing at the altar of the many weddings I was in, and putting in my usual request of “Please don’t let me die alone. Please don’t let me die alone.” But during the Jewish New Year, I am given that actual time to think about what I want for the future and to make my apologies for the past. There is also the tradition in which the rabbi blows a ram’s horn, known as the shofar, and subsequently every male in the room makes an obvious sexual joke. It’s no didgeridoo, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Later that day, we gather to perform Tashlikh, the act of casting off our “sins” into a natural body of flowing water. I attended this ceremony at the Manhattan Beach Pier — I know, that is so LA.
We use bread to symbolize these sins. I’m not sure why, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Robert Atkins was behind it. Even if you think you’re a real swell guy or gal, you’ve got some sins. Laziness, gambling, pride, gossip…any of those ring a bell? Cast that bread for a clean slate (and to maintain a carb-free household).
It is on Rosh Hashanah that G-d opens the “book,” inscribes our names, and writes our fate for the rest of the year. But the fun don’t stop there. We then have until the tenth day, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, to plead our case, atone for our sins, and have our judgement sealed in the book. It’s basically G-d’s Burn Book and you do not want to get
on his bad side. When we reach this day, once again, offices close, schools in Jewy districts shut down, non-Jews rejoice, and Jews contemplate if having to starve themselves is worth a day off. Sometimes, like this upcoming year, we all get screwed, and the holiday falls on a Saturday. Yom Kippur is the “Day of Atonement” and as if our people haven’t suffered enough, we suffer some more. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. After fasting for 25 hours, we have what is known as “break-fast.” It’s like breakfast, for dinner. And because you haven’t eaten all day, you try to consume an entire day’s worth of calories into one meal. It hurts so good. At that moment, a bagel with lox and cream cheese is the solution to all of life’s problems. So to my fellow Jews, I wish you an easy fast this weekend and a break-fast spread that will do our people proud. L’shanah tovah to all, and to all, good night.