Thursday, September 13, 2007

L'Shanah Tovah - and a note on Memory

"We are not commanded to believe; we are commanded to remember."
- Machzor

After a combined 5 1/2 hours of Rosh Hashanah over the last two days, for now, this is what stands out. It stands out because I think the way I remember - or, rather, my obsession with memory - is the most Jewish aspect of my identity. Memory is bigger than learning to kasher my house, it's more important than keeping Friday-night Shabbat. The Amidah, central to a Jewish prayer service, begins with a recollection of what has ended. It brings to life the biblical patriarchs, and more recently, the matriarchs: "blessed are you, God of our ancestors."

In Everything is Illuminated, JSF says that memory is a Jew's sixth sense, and it's true. My sense of memory is stronger than my sense of present. The past is so tangible, so vibrant, and contained. It's real because it already happened. The present is a gray, wavering thing I can't quite grasp.

I'm tired...but the holiday brought so much more than that. I'll have to share it another time. But for now, a comment on Tashlich:

My parents got into town right before Tashlich. At the beach, we met with a small part of the temple community. We sang together, and threw bread into the water, symbolically releasing things we don't want to bring into the new year. I brought a whole loaf of bread, and my mom and I laughed the same laugh, and yelled, and threw almost the entire thing into the water, slice by stale slice. I had told my parents ahead of time that Tashlich could be very beautiful, "if you let it." It felt really good to share this part of myself with my mom.

Ok, that's all for now. I have so much more to tell, but it will have to wait. L'shanah Tovah (Happy New Year), and may we all be inscribed in the book of life for sweetness in the coming year and always.

- Adva Ahava

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