For me, living in two civilizations means that they inform one another. When I blow my New Year’s Eve, according to the book of Genesis, is Adam's wife, the first woman to be created. party horn in the winter, I remember the echoes of the A ram's horn that is blown on the High Holidays to "wake us up" and call Jews to repentance. It is also said that its blast will herald the coming of the messiah. in the fall.
I love a New Year’s resolution. And I love that Judaism offers us four New Years—Elul, The Jewish New Year, also considered the Day of Judgment. The period of the High Holidays is a time of introspection and atonement. The holiday is celebrated with the sounding of the shofar, lengthy prayers in synagogue, the eating of apples and honey, and round challah for a sweet and whole year. Tashlikh, casting bread on the water to symbolize the washing away of sins, also takes place on Rosh Hashana., The new year of the trees, celebrated with a mystical seder (first created by the Kabbalists) at which four cups of wine are drunk and different kinds of fruit are eaten. In the State of Israel, Tu B'Shvat is Arbor Day, marked with the planting of trees. Tu B’Shvat also has become a modern holiday of the environment, with new seders and haggadot written to reflect this interest., and Pesakh. Four New Years—of relationship, of the calendar, of the trees, and of liberation. With each of these experiences we start over again, count time from the new beginning.
A year since a family member and I began talking again.
A year since I gathered here with my community and feared and dreamed of the year ahead.
A year since the trees blossomed and bore fruit, shade, bounty.
A year since we last got truly free.
Rabbi Mordechai M. Kaplan teaches us that the Jewish people live in two civilizations. This is best explained by the fact that we have two calendars: the Gregorian calendar and the Jewish calendar. The new moon, which marks the beginning of the Jewish month. According to tradition, because women did not participate in the sin of the golden calf, they were given the holiday of Rosh Chodesh. It is customary for women not to work on Rosh Chodesh. Elul might be coming, but it’s in the middle of August on the 23rd. Which fresh start is the true one?
Living in two civilizations for me means that the answer is “yes.” I add to my four New Years a fifth, the Gregorian new year that begins January 1, that I mark alongside my family and friends, that connects me to the strangers in a bar in Galway, Ireland, counting down to 1 and kissing, that connects me to my friends in California doing the same many hours later. I count all five New Years, all five fresh starts.
A few years ago I brought a December 31st New Year’s party blower to my mother’s Rosh Hashanah table. It’s all the same ritual, right? Am I cheapening my family’s Rosh Hashanah by connecting it to January 1? For me, living in two civilizations means that they inform one another. When I blow my New Year’s Eve party horn in the winter, I remember the echoes of the shofar in the fall. When I bang on the table at the end of my Passover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). Lit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees., I remember the joy that I danced in the new year in January.
When I make teshuvah, I am making New Year’s resolutions.
Ariana Katz is rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, graduating in the spring of 2018. She is a queer white Jew of Eastern European descent. The term also refers to the practices and customs associated with this community, often in contrast to Sephardic (Southern European) traditions. femme 4th generation Philadelphian who sees rooted ritual and radical organizing as her Jewish legacy. Ariana was the creator and host of The Aramaic memorial prayer for the dead. Mourners recite this prayer at every service, every day, in the presence of a minyan (prayer quorum) over the course of a year (for a parent) or thirty days (for a sibling or offspring). The prayer actually makes no mention of the dead, but rather prays for the sanctification and magnification of God's name., a podcast about death and identity (kaddishpodcast.com). She is a ritual maker and ruckus organizer, and has taught learners ages 3–93 for over a decade. Ariana has served as a volunteer chaplain at Planned Parenthood and currently sits on the Planned Parenthood board of Southeast Pennsylvania. Ariana is training to be a soferet, scribe of sacred Jewish texts. arianakatz.com.