Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not quite ready for 5771

"Holy crap!" is probably not the expression such news should prompt, but that's what zipped through my head and out of my mouth when I discovered how early Rosh Hashanah would be this year.

The Jewish new year, 5771, begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 8. I am so not ready for this, a sentiment that's guaranteed to generate predictable comments like, "What do you care, aren't you Roman Catholic now?"

These types of remarks used to cheese me off and still do, except I've learned to use them as opportunities to flog my book, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar: Jewish Roots of Christian Worship...kind of like I just did.

I've also started suggesting a visit to Jewcy: What Matter Now might be instructive. A tour through that fabulous site reveals variations of self-definition among contemporary Jews. After decades of inter-everything marriage, it's looking to me like self-definition trumps the rulebook written during antiquity. Not to mention that identity and faith and religion do not necessarily overlap; certainly not neatly.

In fact, I do care that Rosh Hashanah is sooner rather than later. It doesn't matter how long I've been baptized or in what Christian church I hold open my hands and lift them to receive the host, the rhythm of the Jewish liturgical calendar still has the power to shape my daily life.

During the High Holy Days I'm invited to contemplate the year just finished and how I might discover and live according to God's will in the year ahead. Not sure I'm ready, willing or able to do this in a few short weeks. And of course I'll contemplate all this yet again when the Christian liturgical year begins at Advent ─ which also seems to be arriving very early this year.


  1. September 8th is Mary's birthday, too. I like the celebratory/contemplative possibilities here.

  2. Oh Meredith... when I read this I feel as if I stand before a marvelous tapestry. And that tapestry is still being woven.

    Threads of many colors and more than one origin come together so beautifully in your world. And as a result... in our world as well.

    Ready or not, I will be over to say Chag Sameach and to wish you a gut yontiff as the days approach.

  3. Many possibilities, most of which start with, "What's a nice Jewish girl..."

  4. Absolutley. And although it may not be historically accurate, I love imagining Mary dipping apples in honey and praying that the year be as good as it tastes.

  5. I for one think it is very appropriate to continue to embrace Judaism as one continues along the path Christ laid out. Jesus certainly didn't forgo his culture, faith and up-bringing.

    I remember as my own journey through the RCIA began and I started to read the bible. There was a point when i wondered why Christians weren't all still Jewish. I still wonder that sometimes. A pre-emptive "Happy Rosh Hashanah" to you!


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