This past year has been difficult. I watched my father die of Alzheimer’s disease. My youngest teenage son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his situation put a horrible strain on our marriage. My husband and I are not quite separated, but we live like strangers in the same house.
I am not a religious person, but oddly I found myself praying to God on more than one occasion seeking help or answers of how to get through this.
I actually went to a synagogue near my house last week and bought myself a High Holiday ticket. I’m struggling with all kinds of emotions. God had never played a huge role my life, I always believed I was the maker of my own destiny. Now I feel like a complete hypocrite.
Turning to Faith
Dear Turning to Faith
Faith is a very individual concept. There is no right or wrong. There is only what is right for you as an individual. In fact, The CJN did a feature on this topic in the Aug. 6 issue, titled “Is anybody out there,” so clearly you are not alone in your questioning or confusion.
Some people are born into an observant lifestyle and practise their beliefs from Day 1. Others come into religion for different reasons – marriage, spiritual fulfilment, tradition, search for peace, etc. Whatever the reason, it makes no difference. In your case, it may be the pursuit for hope. What you have been through is too much for you to handle on your own, so you are searching for help. Praying is a type of meditation. It gives you the time and permission you need to think and dig down deep into your soul for answers, for peace and for strength. You are turning to religion to find that, as so many people do.
Rosh Hashanah is an excellent time to be introspective. It is the “beginning.” The start of a new year, the start of new thoughts, ideas, changes. It’s a time to look back and reflect.
Spirituality is not ridiculous and you are not a hypocrite. You are simply exploring a different way of accessing your inner being and reaching out to God for strength. Don’t fight it, It’s a journey you’ll be happy you explored.
Josh and I have been married under a year. I’m not Jewish. When we got married, I promised to follow the Jewish traditions, as they were obviously very important to Josh and his family. We’ve even discussed conversion before we have children.
I am hosting my first High Holiday dinner, and it’s the first time I am having my in-laws over for something other than a family barbecue. I want everything to be perfect.
Introduction to Jewish cooking
Dear Introduction to Jewish cooking
Preparing a Rosh Hashanah meal is about so much more than just the food – the food is the easy part.
What you should do, is understand the reasons behind the traditions attached to what you are going to serve at your table.
The challah should be round as opposed to the long braided type. It’s symbolic of the circle of life and the continuity of our faith.
Honey plays a huge role at our Rosh Hashanah tables, and it’s all about the sweet factor. On this holiday, people wish each other Shanah Tovah u’Metukah: translated, you are wishing that person a good and sweet year. Also, Israel is often referred to as the Land of Milk and Honey. So honey is definitely the sweetener of choice for this holiday. You will dip the challah in honey and say a prayer and then dip apples in honey and say a prayer. You can bake a honey cake as it’s also a traditional food to eat at Rosh Hashanah.
Next, you’ll want to serve pomegranate. This fruit is used when reciting the Shehechiyanu blessing. There are different interpretations of why a pomegranate. I like the explanation that each seed is individually wrapped with fruit. Every single seed stands alone as a distinct entity, like each of the commandments or each good deed you do.
There are other traditional dishes such as tzimmes, brisket, gefitle fish, chicken soup.
More importantly, sit back and enjoy your new family and embrace the love and warmth of the Rosh Hashanah dinner table. There are few feelings like it.
Shanah Tovah u’Metukah to all.