Happy New Year! While being far from what could even generously regarded as a practising Jew, it would be remiss not to mark one of the most important days in the Jewish calendar, that of Rosh Hashanah, which is celebrated today and tomorrow.
Although noone would ever describe me as religious now, I was raised in a traditional observant household where all the festivals were celebrated. The frequent occasions throughout the years often mark different memories and remembrances for me – usually from my childhood.
As I like the autumn, the High Holydays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which follows in just over a week, mark the season when the trees turn colour and the leaves start to fall.
I was taught that the celebration of the new year in Judaism is a lot more circumspect than the secular calendar. It is a time to look back and think of how life has been lived over the past 12 months (or 13 months in a Jewish leap year – one extra day sometimes just isn’t enough!). Reflection then. It’s amazing really. One of the cornerstones of my practice and I’d been doing it for as long as I can remember!
These are days in which we (as Jews) are traditionally judged. Falling very much into the secular camp and not being very good at believing in ethereal ideas, I see it as being just a good time to turn back to reflection. Rather than fearing a wrathful divine intervention, I am now far more afraid of the harm caused by humanity all by itself.
So for me, these times which draw me and link me irrevocably with a part of my culture and heritage which I can’t shake off (and believe me, I tried at some particularly rebellious late teen stage) are about giving me time to pause for thought and reflect.
Reflect on the ways that I work and interact with people and the effects that I see as well as those I don’t.
Reflect on the throw-away remarks I might make when I’m tired and am working late into the evening and take a telephone call that I try to speed up so I can head off on my way.
Reflect on every decision I make and the responsibility I hold and their implications.
Reflect on my own learning and training as well as being responsible for addressing needs and gaps as I see them.
So on that note of reflection – a happy new year to all who are interested! As for me, well, I’m off to work – I think my grandparents would not be best pleased!