Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

The Jewish New Year: a great model for reconciliation



I love the Jewish New Year. I was first introduced to it in a book I read in Fourth Grade. I don’t remember the title. I remember that everyone lived in Brownstones and I didn’t know what that was. The fourth grade heroine went to her friend’s house to ask her forgiveness for being mean and catty to her at times during the year. They hugged and said “Good New Year to You” to each other. It impressed me.

I wasn’t even sure what being Jewish was. I had visited a Temple during some inter-faith Sunday School activity of my mild open-minded Methodist Church and remembered the curled up Bible on giant spools. No cross in sight.

My dear friend, Eileen, is Jewish and so I learn as she prepares for each Jewish holiday. Her home is open and the china is on the table and the linen cloths are laid and each holiday is respected and celebrated with meaning intact. And good traditional food is abundant.

My understanding may be wrong but here is what I am attracted to in the Days of Awe.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are connected. Rosh Hashanah opens the Book of Life—— where all deeds are recorded. Then comes ten days of reflection, The Days of Awe. Not the easy kind of “wow” awe but the big, mysterious, terrible kind of “awe”. Knock you to your knees kind of “awe”.   These ten Days of Awe are when you can set the record straight through repentance and asking forgiveness of those you have wronged. Hopefully your name stays in the book and a new year begins (Yom Kippur).  The language of the services is powerful and inspiring.

I think about how we need times of formal reflection built into our lives in order to realign and recommit—in a marriage, in a family, in a company, and in a country. And we need overt forgiveness that we ask for. It is very hard to do. Gaggingly hard to choke out the words.

I have recently had two acquaintances make amends to me/with me as part of their sobriety practices. My husband and I had an Act of Reconciliation as part of our wedding ceremony of to ensure a clean start. We need more formal, and more frequent, moments that support setting t things straight periodically.

My book I PRAY ANYWAY: Devotions for the Ambivalent was the kick-off of my interest in the new forms that all religions are exploring. I say the same thing in many different ways. We need to let go of what doesn’t work, keep what is essential to the belief, and create new ways to come together with higher purpose than self-interest. It will happen. It is happening. It will be good. It will be hard to get there. It will take formal reflection and the willingness to address our impact on one another. We will care about being good.

L’ Shanah Tovah

Speaking of forgiveness, please forgive any mistakes or misinterpretation of these High Holy Days as I present them.



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