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If You Think I Take Grammar Seriously, You Should See Me On Rosh Hashanah

A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditional...
A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditionally blown in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish civic year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I am sitting in temple for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

I’ll be thinking about the wrongs that I have committed this year and praying for forgiveness.

I assume I have hurt people this year.

I am positive that I ticked someone off.

You know, for being too quick to speak.

And for that I am sorry.

Because sometimes I say stupid stuff.

And I am working on it.

Every year.

I am working on being slower to act on impulse.

That is a tough nut to crack for me.

When I perceive an injustice, it is hard for me to shut up about it.

But sometimes, these are other people’s battles and not mine.

And sometimes the things we view as major problems are just obstacles to which we must adjust.

I’m learning that it is not my job to make everyone around me change.

I am trying to be more loving (and tolerant) towards the people who are the greatest blessings in my life. I need to thank the person who always takes my morning phone call; the person who dances with me on her driveway and brings me baskets of pears fresh off her trees; the family member, with whom I don’t seem to speak the same language, but I like to believe would be around for me if I ever really needed help.

I am trying to be more mindful of the sick. There are people around me who have been struggling, either physically or emotionally. Or both. Because, while writers may be willing to admit feelings of overwhelmedness in the blogging world, it is sometimes harder for people in real-life to share when they are melting-down. I am watching for signs, so I can be a more supportive friend.

There is a lot of symbolism regarding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

If you are interested in learning more, you can click HERE.

Tomorrow, I will wander down to the Erie Canal and drop little dried flower petals into the water as I speak my transgressions aloud.

That’s right, I will admit to all the things that I have done wrong.

Because Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone we have wronged and to make plans for improvement during the coming year, I will also bring a list of things with me: action steps — people to whom I need to apologize as well as thoughts on how I’d like to live my life differently in the next year, 5772.

I will say these words:

Who is like You, God, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance. He doesn’t remain angry forever because He desires kindness. He will return and He will be merciful to us.  He will conquer our iniquities, and He will cast them into the depths of the seas.

From the straits I called upon God, and God answered me with expansiveness. God is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? God is with me to help me, and He will see my foes.

And then I will shake out my pockets, symbolically removing all the old stuff. The lint and the crud that accumulates in the littlest nooks and crannies, so I can start fresh.

Rosh Hashanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

So each year, I try to be a little bit better.

Later, I will come home to dip an apple in honey and wish my family a sweet year, filled with health and peace.

I wish the same for each of you.

Check out this happy video.

Now for a minute, pretend you are standing beside the water with me. What is one little thing that you would like to change about yourself to be a better person?

Tweet this Twit @RASJacobson

48 thoughts on “If You Think I Take Grammar Seriously, You Should See Me On Rosh Hashanah

  1. I am Christian and really enjoyed your post. I really love this tradition and I think you are going about it in a very beautiful and devout way.
    The humorous writer side of me could see a Woody Allen movie where he admits to having an affair with his friend’s wife assuming his friend already knows. I wonder if that has happened when a friend admits wrong-doing when the person is completely unaware!

    1. When taken seriously, it is actually really hard to see the humor in it. I know I have to actually try to make amends with a few people. We had to take a kind of oath today that we would not harbor grudges against people who have hurt us physically or emotionally, whether intentionally or purposefully.

      That is really hard.

      But yes, good ole Woody is fabulous at catching the humor that can happen inside of rituals such as these. And I pretty sure that truth is far whackier than reality! I mean, he gets his material from somewhere, right? 😉

      1. I was going to say I’d try to be less sarcastic, as well. But some people love my sarcasm. Some not so much. Maybe I just need to learn to filter better. 🙂

        I love this post, Renee.

    1. Dorothy: Trust is a good one. Trust that things will work out. It is hard to be trusting when the media wants us to be scared.

      I tend to be very trusting which means I get hurt sometimes.

      I’m okay with it.

      I have learned to be more discerning over the years about the people in whom I can trust.

    1. Chase, it’s hard to go less ballistic when you have so many dang kids. Aren’t you up to like seven by now? 😉

      Maybe you should just go for “less ball” — I’m guessing you guys probably have too many balls around the house anyway.

      Can we agree that you’ll still say cussing? Cuz that word is just funny.

    1. Hi Lorna:

      Honestly, each religion is so complex. I just try to keep it simple and let people know what I’m doing. But I’m glad you got a sense of how important these days are for Jews. Most people don’t understand why we parents pull our children out of school.

      To many teachers, our observance is an annoyance.

  2. A beautiful post. One that instructed me gently. I feel like I know a fair bit about Islam (from living in the Middle East), a fair bit about Buddhism (from living in Thailand), and a fair bit about Christianity (from growing up in the church). But Judaism, not much. Maybe I should move to Israel. Or to Rochester. (I think the latter would be more fun. Any neighbouring houses for sale?)

    I too will try to be more patient with my children and more forgiving of my own failures.

    Wishing you a blessed Rosh Hashanah.

    1. I believe Jews make up .1% of the overall world population.

      In my little corner of the world, we are about 6% — and one community over is about 30%, so around these parts, most people have some sense of Rosh Hashanah.

      Our grocery stores feature huge displays featuring our special foods, and I feel really fortunate to live here because so many people are actually very educated about our cultural and religious traditions.

      I was emailing with a blogger friend last night who had never heard of Rosh Hashanah.

      (For you, that would be like hearing someone say they had never heard of Christ.)

      It is a reminder that out in the real world, most people don’t get how important a holiday this is for us as a community.

      1. Um.. guilty. But I have heard about Yom Kipper – thanks to the calendars I have purchased in the past – I just had no idea what it meant.

        None of my in-person close friends have been Jewish, nor are any family members, and schools certainly don’t educate you about various religions.

        I think it is a wonderful holiday, and a tradition everyone should do.

        For me, releasing some control and being more understanding when things don’t meet my expectations.

        Because I expect a lot, I guess.

        I should also be less bossy, and I’m working on that.

        1. Kelly! I wasn’t calling you out! I think Jewish people get all bent out of shape sometimes that most of the world doesn’t know what we are doing.

          I don’t expect people to know.

          And I don’t think it is appropriate to get angry about that.

          And you and me both on the releasing control. We Type A’s have high expectations — which is, of course, a blessing and a curse.

          I adore you for connecting with me last night, #IYKWIM. Because you know, it was perfect timing. 😉

  3. What a lovely post, Renee! You know that I have passed on the VBA award to you, but If I hadn’t already – this post would have sealed the deal.

    Your words are so lovely and soft; I read this post as if you were whispering it.

    Again, lovely!!

  4. I love love love this:

    I need to thank the person who always takes my morning phone call; the person who dances with me on her driveway and brings me baskets of pears fresh off her trees; the family member, with whom I don’t seem to speak the same language, but I like to believe would be around for me if I ever really needed help.

    Wow. Yes.

    And if I were standing beside you committing to working on something about myself for the new year, I’d say spontaneity.

    I need to let go more and be open to things that haven’t been planned for days/months/weeks; I must unclench my teeth when a situation arises that is out of my control, or where the circumstances may not be perfect.

    All will be well. I want to remember that. To believe it.

  5. I love this. I love your religious traditions. I love the purposeful celebration and deliberate unforgetting, I love the deeply symbolic reminders that G-d is for us, so who can be against us?

    I shook out my pockets with you tonight, friend.

    1. Thanks Jess.

      I love that I can share this stuff with you — when I can’t even share it with some of the people I know best.

      You know what they say: religion and politics. Not supposed to talk about those things.

      But we bloggers seem to know how to have a polite discourse on all things.

      So thank you for being a wonderful cyber-friend whom I wish I lived closer to. Cuz then I could go to church with you. And you could come to temple with me. And it wouldn’t be weird. Because we would talk about our experiences — the things that were similar and different, the things we did not understand. And we could write about these things together.

      I would so like that.

  6. I started typing a reply to this before Li’l D got up this morning, but I found myself rushing through it. I closed the window and told myself I’d come back to your questions when I could give them proper time and consideration. It’s a good thing, too; I wasn’t even thinking clearly enough to comprehend this post’s title!

    I wish I’d gone down to the river with you, or joined my own congregation. I’m trying to build up PTO (of which I have very little), and so did not take off the day. This was a mistake.

    Over the course of the day, I thought about your question. I came across a couple of ridiculous answers, but then it hit me while I was walking the dog: Every day, my biggest frustration with myself is how grumpy I am with my dog. He’s not as obedient as he was pre-baby, in part because I’m not giving him the time and tools I could before to keep the same level of obedience. I note his every failure, but don’t praise enough his many “good dog” ways. His sweetness with Li’l D alone makes all his little transgressions insignificant, and I’d like to actually treat them that way instead of constantly telling him to stop, back off, leave it, kennel, etc.

    I’m going to work on converting that from intention to action.

  7. First of all, L’Shana Tova! Hope you had a meaningful day. It’s interesting because I’ve been doing a lot more reflection this year than I have before. I’m working on letting go of things and ideas from my past and moving forward. It will be a sweet new year (I hope).

    1. Thanks, Leah. I am so happy to meet you. I did have a meaningful day. Off for more now.

      Letting go of things from the past is really hard, especially if you live near the people and things that can trigger you.

      I wish you much peace in this area the new year.

      I also hope you remember to shake your groove thing.

      It’s important to have balance. 😉

  8. I read the post yesterday and thought about it off and on throughout the day. I feel like that sometimes and I’m glad when I can let go. It is difficult at times to let go….but it is a good thing. Keep moving forward.

    1. Hi Clay:

      Moving forward. It’s all we can do, right?

      I guess the the trick is to do it mindfully. Sometimes I still feel like I am taking two steps forward and three steps back.

      Or that I am sliding down a hill on a very fast sled. Depends on the time of year. 😉

  9. What a lovely post, Renee, and a reminder that I should stop over here more often. I would like to figure out where to volunteer in my community. I feel like it’s important to give back but I haven’t followed through since I moved here. A year and a half ago! So that is my current goal, one that would certainly improve my character no matter what I decide to do.

    1. Thanks Leigh! It’s hard to read everything when there are so many great writers out there. No apologies necessary! I think that your desire to help in your community is a wonderful thought that could easily be put into action. Honestly, think of what YOU would like to do.

      Do you like to read? I bet there are elderly people who would love someone to read to them? Prefer kids? I know our community has a literacy program. Are you more of a worker bee? Soup kitchens everywhere are in need of help.

      It may sound selfish, but I think the key to sticking to community service is doing something you love. Then you can find a place in the community to serve. I will hope you find that place. 😉

  10. Today I can’t think of one little thing, only a million things that feel so heavy I want to lie down on this dingy dining room rug.

    I would love to see the water today. Tomorrow I’ll help my parents move into a house near the lake. Maybe I can slip away for a few moments of quiet, to confess and receive hope and be thankful.

    Thank you for this glimpse into the holiday, Renee. So beautiful.

    1. Hi Amanda:

      So happy to meet you.

      Yes, yes! Go to the water. Even if it is rainy. even if it is cold. Shake out your pockets. Be quiet with yourself. And be gentle with yourself. We do the best we can do, but maybe we can try to do a little bit better. 😉

  11. I really loved this post. So beautiful and I truly appreciate learning about Rosh Hashanah. This made me tear up when I first read it and again when I just reread — happy tears. It’s such a hopeful post.

    I hope to let the little things not get to me so much and to have as much patience and understanding inside my home as I try to have at work. And I hope to truly appreciate the moments with my little family, to be better at drinking it in.

    1. Amy, meeting you has been such an amazing experience for me. You have so much faith. And love. It’s hard to imagine you wishing for more patience. You, my sweet blogging friend, who has lost so many worldly possessions, but who always had her eye on something bigger. You have recognized how much you have in spite of — or maybe because of — the rubble. I’m so proud to be your blogging friend.

      Thank you for helping me usher in this new year. May you have a sweet year of health and peace. 😉

  12. Shana Tova! I love this week. It is difficult if you take them seriously, but wonderful, too. Given that we get a secular New Year in a few months, I like that this gives me a head start. I figure by the time January 1 resolutions come around, I’m ready to really know what I need to do. 🙂

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