On the Jewish calendar, the new year – 5774 – is fast approaching: We’ll be celebrating Rosh Hashanah beginning on Wednesday evening, Sept. 4. It feels right to us to start a new year in the fall, with the return to routine, the beginning of the school year, and the change of seasons to cooler weather.
We won’t stay up late waiting for the fireworks display, and we won’t open a bottle of champagne. That’s what you do on the secular New Year – the night of December 31. But we will light candles, open a bottle of wine, and buy a round challah for our Rosh Hashanah dinner.
The custom of eating a round challah, rather than the usual oblong one, is symbolic of the cyclical nature of the years and celebrates the new year rolling in. It’s an example of minhag, a custom that is not mentioned in the Torah or mandated by Jewish law but is followed nonetheless.
It’s not customary to make resolutions for the Jewish New Year, but we’re going to break the mold and put a Jewish spin on the those typical New Year’s resolutions that are always in the news in January. Maybe it’ll give us a head start on all those gym memberships and diet plans that are forgotten by February 3.
Lose 5 pounds: If we pick out and eat only the chocolate shnecken, ask for super lean corned beef, and make the kugel with fat-free cottage cheese, we can surely trim down.
Be less stressed: We are considering signing up for “relaxation with Ronnie” at the JCC, yoga in the park, Pilates with a friend, and meditation. But now we’re stressed about wearing spandex pants and sitting Indian-style on that yoga mat in public.
Spend less money: Sure, we could shop around for the bargain orthodontist, give our kids the hand-me-down SAT book from 1998, and tell them to accept that full-ride scholarship at East Podunk State, but as a friend said, “Would you do that to your darling kids?” We have to find other ways to trim our budgets.
Volunteer for a good cause: By this we mean an official charity, not favors for family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and the Scout troop. Evidently cooking meals for a crowd, taking our mother-in-law to the doctor, shlepping kids to sports practice, and picking up the dry cleaning do not count as volunteer hours.
Drink less: What do you mean by less? Does this include the Wawa iced coffee that we pick up and drink in the car? What about the glass of white wine that we pour ourselves as we make dinner? The bottle was already open. We will vow to drink less Red Bull – we’ve never tasted it and never want to.
Spend more time with family: Do they want to spend more time with us? It’s hard enough to get an answer when we ask them a question. What are we going to do together? We like to go shopping with our daughters, but that will shoot the budget resolution. Spending time with the rest of them? We don’t have the same hobbies, we don’t like the same TV shows, and some of them fall asleep by 10 p.m.
Quit smoking: The only smoke we like is smoked salmon on a bagel with a shmeer of cream cheese. Please, invite us over for brunch. We’re always up for a good fish tray.
We wish all our readers and friends Shanah Tovah — a sweet and happy New Year