Thursday, September 25, 2014

Happy 5775

The High Holy Days - the "holidays," as TigerBlog's people puts it - seem to have arrived on time this year.

This is something very unusual. As TigerBlog wrote two years ago and repeated last year:

In Jewish culture, the High Holy Days never come on time. They're either early or late, as in "the holidays came really early this year," which is said at every family celebration as a way of suggesting that the hostess was caught completely off guard, what with the end of the summer and all, and therefore couldn't create a proper meal for the occasion. This is usually followed by a general agreement that "we should only be together on wonderful occasions."

For this year, it seems like it's right about when it should be. And by this year, TigerBlog means the Year 5775, which is what this year is on the Jewish calendar.

Rosh Hashanah arrived at sundown last night. For those who don't know these kinds of things, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and the start of the High Holy Days, which end eight days from now with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

It's a time for celebration and self-reflection, and it ends with a 24-hour fast to atone for one's sins. It's a time to hope, often against hope, that perhaps one day there will be peace - even if that day seems fairly far away right now.

As for the Hebrew calendar, it has run continuously for 5,775 years now. It's not exactly like the Gregorian calendar, in that there are months that appear in some years and not others, months whose main role seem to be to keep the Hebrew calendar in line with the Gregorian one. They're sort of leap months, though not exactly.

As a result, the Jewish holidays don't always fall on the same exact day from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. Some years they're early. Others they're late.

Last year, the High Holy Days started at sundown on Sept. 4, which also, by the way, the earliest that it can ever start. The latest it can start is Oct. 5. The midpoint would be Sept. 20, so pretty much anything this week is right in the middle.

TigerBlog's memories of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur from his childhood are of no school, no work and no playing outside. They were family days, and there was no running around before heading off to see the family, which usually meant a long ride to either Brooklyn, Queens or Long Island, depending on who the host that year was.

Every little Jewish kid tries to fast on Yom Kippur, and none make it. Rosh Hashanah? Eat up.

Rosh Hashanah lasts two full days, though Reform Jews, of which TigerBlog is one, aren't as diligent about the second one.

Rosh Hashanah will end at sundown tomorrow. If the holiday started a day later, it would end with fireworks, but only over Princeton Stadium at the conclusion of the Princeton-Davidson football game.

The men's soccer team played at Drexel last night. TigerBlog understands playing on religious holidays in a secular league like the Ivy League. Hey, everyone plays baseball and softball on Easter Sunday. The men's soccer team is home Saturday as well, against Binghamton.

The women's soccer teams opens its Ivy League season at Yale Saturday in what could be the biggest game of the weekend. Getting off to a good start in the Ivy race in soccer is huge.

The field hockey team is also at Yale Saturday and then is at Albany Sunday. The women's volleyball team opens its Ivy League season against Penn tomorrow night. Sprint football is home against Post tomorrow night as well.

There are other events as well. Water polo is home Sunday. There is also golf and tennis on the road.

It's a busy weekend.

Next weekend is the Ivy opener in football, at Columbia. TigerBlog will probably go, even if it is Yom Kippur. If he does go, he'll fast. Like he did that year at Brown, when he went to services across the street from Brown Stadium with a Bears player in full uniform.

In the meantime, happy 5775, whether you're one of TigerBlog's people or not.

Hopefully it is a year of prosperity, happiness - and peace.

No comments: