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l'shana tova

It's that time of year again, mom. Happy new year.


According to my people's ancient traditions, this is the time when God is keeping an eye on you. I like the Jewish traditions of the high holy days. They make sense to me, even if the rational part of my head doesn't believe they're exactly true.

Nine days ago, says the story, God opened the Book of Life. That's Rosh Hashanah, when you're supposed to think about the sweetness of life. So Heather and I sat at the table in the living room and squeezed honey out of a plastic bear onto freshly cut apples. And I remembered all those Rosh Hashanas as a kid, spooning honey out of that silver and crystal bowl that only came out of the cupboard once a year. It felt sacrilegious to do it with a honey bear, but the honey tasted just as sweet.

Two days ago, a stranger on a hateful tear called me a "kike" in an anonymous email. This is what I get for exposing my Jewishness on the internet. But I'm not angry about it today, because today is Yom Kippur.

Mostly what I remember about Yom Kippur from my childhood is going to services and apologizing a lot. There's nothing worse you can do to a teenager than to make them apologize for an hour and a half, sitting and standing, starving and fasting. But that's what we did.

I was told I'd understand when I was an adult. And, I guess, I do. It's good to have a yearly excuse to examine your life. Take joy in the sweetness, atone for your mistakes, promise to do better next time – if you get a next time.

To be honest, it still makes me uneasy. I guess being an adult means understanding that feeling uneasy is kinda the point.

So today I take part in these ancient traditions, even though I don't know if they're anything more than a cultural ritual, a useful metaphor. And again I expose my beliefs to the world in spite of the potential for hatred, hoping for tolerance instead. And again I say: I'm sorry. Because that's what today is for.

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. Amen.

{ 11:06am }



» L'shanah tovah, baby!

– heather  { 9.27.01 @ 11:14am }

» These are good traditions and I am proud and humbled to be your friend.

Dinah  { 9.27.01 @ 11:45am }

» May you be blessed with a good year of health
and happiness. Amen.


– morris powazek  { 9.27.01 @ 12:06pm }

» Sometimes I have gotten hate mail calling me "taig". That's like "kike", except it's aimed at Roman Catholics, Irish Roman Catholics to be precise. It's hurtful, not to mention hateful, but what can you do, except move on?

What year is it in the Jewish faith by the way?

Tom Cosgrave  { 9.27.01 @ 1:51pm }

» Thanks for linking to my story again, Derek. It is still a very lonely time of the year for me. I'm so glad you and Heather can spend it together. L'Shana Tova . Momma

PS. Tom, it's 5762 on the Jewish calendar!

– Momma  { 9.27.01 @ 3:56pm }

» Thanks for the answer Mrs.P!
I suppose the logical next question is - the 5762nd year since what? Would I be correct in thinking Creation?

Tom Cosgrave  { 9.27.01 @ 4:07pm }

» Mrs Powazek, definite ooohs and aahs about your two lovely and accomplished children.

marrije  { 9.28.01 @ 12:22am }

» L'shanah tovah to you as well, Derek. Hoping you had an easy fast and may we all end up on on similar pages in the book of life.

Another year begins, friends. Onward...

Kevin Smokler  { 9.28.01 @ 12:24am }

» Tom - Since they started counting, of course! ;-)

Derek M. Powazek  { 9.28.01 @ 9:35am }

» Derek: With sadness and hope - L'shanah tovah.

Tom: Yes, according to Jewish tradition that is the number of years since creation.

– shmuel  { 9.30.01 @ 6:25pm }

» I thought it was the number of years since Jacob received the name "Israel" from G-d...That's the official beginning of the Jewish people! I could be wrong...
Creation was MUCH farther back!

– Momma  { 10.1.01 @ 9:52pm }

» Mrs Powazek,

Your explanation seems to make sense. It even seems that I have heard that story before as well. On the other hand I was always taught that Hebrew dates indeed began at creation even though the first three days may not have been 24 common hours (as the sun was not yet created - I actually just figured that part out). I must say that your explanation made me doubt myself for a moment until I did a Google search (the new Rabbi?) and got this answer. Now I don't doubt my sanity just the consistency of all these stories we are told but I suppose I've always doubted that. Nothing's changed.

– shmuel  { 10.3.01 @ 9:02pm }

» Oops, sorry, here's the link I meant to include.

– shmuel  { 10.3.01 @ 9:03pm }


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  Gaming the system: How moderation tools can backfire
Sometimes all the widgets backfire, encouraging the very behavior they're designed to avert. The rules have a dangerous side-effect: they create a game.
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Counting Flags by Kevin Smokler.
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Fray Day 6 is coming to cities all over the world on September 14, 2002. Come tell your story.
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