Friday, September 25, 2009

A Time For Remembering

The Holiday Season is here and boy do I need to atone for 5769 – yikers. Hopefully the almighty will view my transgressions of the past 12 months as minor bumps in the road and inscribe me once more into the book of life (fingers crossed). For those of you who don’t observe the holidays I’ll give you a quick overview. On Rosh Hashanah (the New Year), God does a little sorting, kind of like a naughty and nice list. At this time he is compiling his first draft of who will make it through the year and during Rosh Hashanah services we read what is one of my favorite lists, I like to call it, “The list of terrific demises”. Here is a small snippet of the horrific ends that God is reviewing, “who will die by fire and who by water, who by sword and who by wild animal,… who by strangling and who by stoning” I think you get the drift….ominous! Now after you get sorted there is still time to get yourself off the bad kid list, you have one week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to make good with all the people you have wronged because as it is said, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed”.

I have always viewed the fall holidays as a fresh start of something, like a new school year or the beginning of the theater season. But after a few googles I found a great excerpt from a Jewish textbook that really resonated:
“Rosh Hashanah is a time of self-reflection, a day to ask ourselves what is it that drives our attitude and behavior? What is it that we really want out of life? Are we acting in a way that makes progress towards our vision of a good life or are we acting in a way that inhibits us from progressing? Rosh Hashanah is a day to take back control and to master those things that may have been mastering us.”

As some of you know my father, who passed away when I was 10, was a Cantor. Even though I only heard him sing the Kol Nidre about 5 times his booming baritone is forever cemented in my head as the standard that all Kol Nidre’s are judged. At this time of year it is impossible not to be reminded of my few years with him and the excitement I felt as his voice reverberated off the wooden rafters of our mod mid century sanctuary while the several hundred congregants bowed their heads in payer. Here is a very poor quality live recording of my father singing the Kol Nidre at Yom Kippur services (the link will navagate to a new page and it may take a while to load). Click here Walter Lewis Kol Nidre

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