I have so much I could say about Rosh Hashanah and starting a new year -- 5769 -- this evening. But I also have much to do before the day arrives and thus, I will devote myself to brevity.
At this point last year, I was living in Chicago, dating someone who I was sure was my soulmate, going to a Reform shul I didn't even like, working a job that made me cry, and longing for so many things. Now, I am living in Connecticut, dating someone new who is a kind, intelligent, hard-working Jew, going to many different shuls in the region, and am going to graduate school for Judaic studies. Over the past two years, since converting in April 2006, I have spent the holidays in situations that were unkind and unfamiliar and disallowed me from connecting truly to the holidays. I attended services that left me empty -- one year in a church adored with crosses and the other in a Reform shul where the services felt like a gigantic production more than holy days. And now? I'll be spending Shabbos on campus with some other Jews and possibly spending Yom Kippur at a Conservative shul in West Hartford, not to mention that I am growing in my observance, learning more about who I am and where I am going. I know that I am happier, healthier, more alive, more excited, and perhaps most of all, I am far more blessed at this point than I was just a year ago.
I have new readers from all over the world -- the U.K., Israel, Alaska, the South, the West, the North, and even a few right here in Connecticut. I don't always know how people find me, but I am thankful each and every day for new readers who become new friends who become new confidants. I am blessed to be able to inspire others while they, too, inspire me with each word I write, and this folds into my everyday in class, in conversation, in relationships, in life. I have become a collector -- a modern day qohelet -- of not things, but people.
So as I prepare for the new year, I have to wonder -- where can I go from here? Where will I be at this time as 5770 ushers in? Rosh Hashanah is a time for rebirth and renewal in all realms of our lives and in the existence we share with those around us. We experienced so much suffering in the past year -- hurricanes, tornadoes, deaths of those too young to die, and deaths of those too great to die. Disease continues to plague the world with poverty and hatred on its toes. It is true that there is no where we can go but forward, and I can only hope that this new year will allow us all to be inscribed in the book of life, to feel faithfulness and health and happiness and success.
It is with this that I say thank you -- all of you -- who have graced my life this year and made it a blessing. You have given me strength, courage and determination and toe ach of you I wish a shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem and a sweet, sweet new year! And please, watch this video -- it is truly amazing in its power and resonance.
Oh, and if you want to get a jump-start on preparing for Yom Kippur, Ilana-Davita posted a great bit about fasting.