Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A Yemenite-style Shofar - the traditional Ram’s Horn Trumpet.

As the year 5767 winds down to its final hours, I’m watching the steam rise from a pot of boiling water, a pot in which SWMBO has lovingly placed a raft of Matzoh Balls to cook. The brisket - a honkin’ big slab of Beefy Goodness - sits in the pan in its braising liquid, ready for me to slide it into the oven tomorrow at mid-day. A huge cauldron of chicken soup rests contentedly in the fridge.

The Missus is giving Darth Stover his first Big Workout, and he is handling the job magnificently.

There is plenty more to do. The gefilte fish needs to be baked and sliced, and my contributions to tomorrow’s Holiday Dinner - pan-sautéed haricots verts and my fall favorite, Carrot-Parsnip Mash - will be prepared at the last minute.

Of course, there will be a round challah, at the side of which dishes of sliced apples and Tupelo honey will be set.

There won’t be a big crowd for Rosh Hashanah dinner this year. It will be us, our friends Gary and JoAnn, and the Mistress of Sarcasm, who was able to score enough time off for her to make the four-hour trip. Having her here will make it an extra-special holiday, although it will make the absence of Elder Daughter at our table that much more keenly felt.

It still feels like summer, with temperatures well into the 80’s. Hot, sure, but still a relief from the searing 100-plus highs of a month ago. And yet...and yet...there are the unmistakable signs that Fall is in the air.

The sky is darker as I leave the house in the morning, with dawn just beginning to break. In the local Preppy Clothing Store, Jackass Pants and seersucker have given way to sweaters and overcoats.

Another New Year is on its way. 5768!

The two days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begin tomorrow at sundown. Yom Kippur, the other bookend to the ten-day penitential period known as the Yomim Nora-im, the Days of Awe, arrives a week from Friday evening at sundown.

There is a lot to do in precious little time. Aside from Meal Prep - much less onerous, given that we are not feeding a small army this year - I am getting ready for Yom Kippur, when I will (b’ratzon ha-Shem) once again serve as shaliach tzibur – cantor and leader - of the Musaf service.

And it occurs to me that it is now exactly twenty years since our rabbi in Connecticut reawakened my sleeping Torah-Reading Abilities, taught me the special High Holiday cantillation, and had me read the entire first-day Rosh Hashanah Torah portion - an office I performed for many years both in Connecticut and in Houston. But that year, the ’Rents d’Elisson attended services with us in Glastonbury, and so heard me read Torah for the first time since my Bar Mitzvah year. Alas, it was my mother’s last Rosh Hashanah, although none of us would have suspected it at the time...

This is, traditionally, the time of year when we seek reconciliation with those we may have offended or otherwise disappointed or made unhappy during the prior year. You can pray to the Big Guy Upstairs for forgiveness all you want, but if you have hurt your fellow human beings, only they can accept your apologies.

So, if I have managed to upset you, disappoint you, or otherwise Piss You Off, please forgive me. (For once, I’m serious.)

And to my friends, family, and Esteemed Readers, Jewish or not, may this new year be a sweet one, bringing health and happiness to you and yours without limit to any good thing.

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