No I’m not Jewish, although I am more than willing to convert if the 92nd Street Y accepts my son into their Nursery School. I do, though, love the timing of Rosh Hashanah since it falls on September according to the Gregorian calendar. Premised I know next to nothing about Judaism other than what a New Yorker learns from growing up, well, in New York. I’ve been to my fair share of Bar Mitzvah and was ecstatic to go to a High School that observed Jewish holidays (I was also terribly jealous of Hanukkah’s “a-present-each-night” policy that my friend’s families had going on). Most of my Judaic teachings, therefore, are hearsay from my Jewish friends. I do not want to belabor the point, nor do I want to be in any way flippant about this period of observance, but as my Jewish friends celebrate the New Year and do penance during these days leading up to Yom Kippur, I too enter my New Year with a look back at what I have done and a list of resolutions for the year to come.
Most people use January 1st as their “new beginning”: out with the old and in with the new. I never found that date inspiring and now that I am a parent, even less so. I much prefer September: the day after Labor Day to be exact. Here in New York (and certainly in much of the US and Europe) August is certainly the slowest month of the year. It’s hot and sticky and schools are still closed. Most people take a week or two off of work and if you are lucky enough, you flee the sweltering heat and melting sidewalks.
I am one of the lucky ones who can escape and recharge. It is the only time all year that I can do so. I physically and mentally get ready for another year of work. I also sit down and put down a list of things that I want to get done in the coming year as I see it (September to August). I consider it my “year in review” or “self-judgement” (if you prefer the more religious connotations). I look back at what I have done: the good (pat on the back), the bad (repent) and the ugly (shake my head in disgust). Once I have mulled all of this over, cleared my head of most of the noise and made my mea culpa, I am ready to look forward as well as move forward.
This means that come September I can start anew. I buy those brand new Number 2 pencils, sharpen them, blow on the points to get the residual pieces off and then line them up on the desk. Crack my knuckles. Adjust my posture. Blink. Stare at the blank piece of paper. Blink again. Fake cough. Pick up the pencil. Tap the eraser on my bottom lip. Furrow my brow. Place the lead tip on the paper a few times like a batter taking a few swipes when stepping to the plate. And then ever so slowly I write “To Do List” and underline it for good measure. I won’t bore you with my list, but just keep your fingers crossed that I can get through most of it by next August.
With that said… Shana Tova!