I cannot believe that Rosh Hashonah is this week. That’s really soon. I think this happens every year–no matter how much great hard, internal, introspective, personal work one does during Elul (the month leading up to RH), it somehow always ends with,
“How can the holdiays be starting already??!?!?!?” Rabbi Alan Lew got it right in the title of his (absolutely wonderful, exceedingly reccomended) book on the High Holy Days: THIS IS REAL AND YOU ARE COMPLETELY UNPREPARED. Yeah, no kidding. Some years this would inspire a panic that would prompt me to try to block out large chunks of time to do the internal and interpersonal work required to make it through Yom Kippur properly. Other years, like this one, I seem not to be able to plug quite in there, and will need the liturgy of Rosh Hashonah to kick me proplerly in the pants. And it will, it always does. That’s part of how it works. Thank goodness for rituals that are smarter than me.
Not only am I not even remotely spiritually prepared, but I’m also not logisitically prepared. I need to figure out where I can find chicken-style seitan in Jerusalem so that I can make my annual Vegan Brisket. Don’t laugh. It’s really, really good. Even the meat eaters think so, and the meat eaters I hang around aren’t the type to mince words (the vegetarians either, come to think of it.) I heart my vegan brisket. My mother’s recipe got lost somewhere in the shuffle of the ages, and I’m pretty sure it required a very specific brand of french dressing that I don’t think I’ve ever seen outside of the town where I grew up, so I use her best friend’s recipe, which is also pretty fabulous. So I need to scour the health food stores by the shuk (market) to see if they have seitan, and I need to get my hands on A1 Steak Sauce. The rest is pretty managable. If neither of these things are possible I don’t know what I’ll do. I mean, I could just not make the brisket, but that feels sick and wrong.
See, of all the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashonah is the one for which I have the strongest set of sentimental weirdnesses. We didn’t do a lot of Jewy things growing up, so my relationship to them is as an adult. And, like, our strong family minhag (custom) for Passover involved a lot of glasses of White Zinfandel more than anything. But Rosh Hashonah is the holiday on which I channel my mother. It’s like she comes back from the dead and takes over my body for most of a day. I insist on making brisket. I get all weird and fussy and kind of Martha Stewart-ish. I wear scarves and more eyeshadow than normal. I contemplate wearing a brooch. It’s very strange, but usually it wears off by the end of the first day or so. And it’s not even like my mother was that fussy when she was alive, but I seem to get all of those bits of her once a year. Yeah, I dunno either. But to not make brisket on Rosh Hashonah? Unthinkable.
In any case, happy and healthy new year to all you Jew-thangs out there, and abundant blessings to everyone else, too. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to report in before the tides turn, but if not, see you in 5765.