The traditional greeting for Rosh Hashanah isn't "happy new year" like for the secular calendar's celebration; it's shanah tovah u'metukah: it's for a "good, sweet year." The "sweet" is important. There were a lot of years when it was a hard life to be Jewish and that's still true in some places today. But modern life brings its own challenges for everybody regardless of faith. We could all use some blessings for sweetness.
For the first time in many years we're neither traveling for this holiday nor having anybody over for the festive meals. We have wonderful invitations for every meal (which means we have wonderful friends). I miss the cooking a little bit, but as much as I love a huge kitchen production I am also enjoying entering into the holiday in quiet, which is unusual and pleasant.
A Rosh Hashanah meal traditionally begins with apples dipped in honey: you mean it when you wish for a sweet year. You make it happen. Two of my kids don't like honey, though, so we'll be showing up with a bottle of maple syrup. That's our apples tradition. I don't know if maple syrup existed in Europe of the past few centuries or anywhere in biblical times, but this is our modern spin on an ancient blessing. This is our ancient blessing brought to fruition in our modern life.
All my Jewish friends: I love you. Shanah tovah u'metukah.
All my non-Jewish friends: I love you, too, of course. Tell me your quirkiest family holiday tradition?
May 5773 bring sweet blessings for all of us.