Shana Tova!

That’s the greeting for Rosh Hashanah!

This post is a bit belated, but I celebrated the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashanah last week! It began at sundown on Wednesday and lasted until sundown on Thursday. Luckily I had all of Thursday off of work, so I could indulge in a few of the traditions!

Similarly to how our New Years Eve is a joyous occasion filled with food and resolutions, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by eating foods like apples, honey, and pomegranates to symbolize a sweet year to come. It is also a time of pensive reflection on the past year and anticipation of the next. Instead of 2014, the Jewish calendar proclaims that it is now year 5774.

I celebrated by eating my fill of apples dipped in honey. I even made apple cinnamon challah bread from scratch! It was delicious and my coworkers loved eating it the next day.

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Another tradition is to wear new clothing and get a haircut in anticipation for the new year. I scheduled a salon appointment on Rosh Hashanah and dyed my hair a few shades darker for fall – photos to come in the post next week! It is refreshing to get a new look. It’s a gentle reminder to always look toward the future.

This celebratory holiday is in bitter contrast to the next holy day of Yom Kippur. On October 3-4th, you are supposed to spend the day reflecting upon your mistakes of the past year and solemnly praying and fasting. Technically, “yom” means “day” and “kippur” means “to atone.” Most Jews spend the day at synagogue, but I will not. I am still searching for an “in” to the Jewish community in Portland!

You probably think it is strange that I am celebrating Jewish holidays without being Jewish (my dad certainly does), but I think life needs more reasons to celebrate…or reflect, in the case of Yom Kippur. Day to day living can become mundane without holidays to look forward to and prepare for. Plus it is a great way to learn about new cultures and religions. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, I am laying the groundwork and educating myself so when I do have children, I can raise them to be accepting of other beliefs and even to appreciate the process of learning and participating in them. In Portland, you see a lot of families who try to be “worldly” and truly let their children grow into their own personalities and values. I think that is a great mindset to have and an interesting contrast to the isolating and white-washed childhood previous generations (and even myself!) had. Maybe after exploring the integrating the Jewish faith into my life, I can expand into Buddhism or Hinduism!

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