The Prayer Book
It is 5778, the Jewish New Year. I read several times On Rosh Hashanah that it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed… how the year will be for us individually. We want to be sealed in the Book of Life. It’s a time for reflection, prayer and giving to those in need. Part of my nontraditional traditions for the Jewish New Year and every other holiday and event include: grocery shopping at several locations, realizing last minute that we don’t have appropriate synagogue clothing and shoes for all of the Brody Bunch, arguing about cleaning, and serving the same brisket dinner each and every year – even the kids at their young ages recognize that if there’s a holiday, there’s a brisket. I had hoped that this year I would be more organized, but I was not. Life got in the way. My level of self created procrastination and things out of my control escalated my level of chaos, and I came out on top like a champ, I usually do. I like the chaos, I thrive on it, but it’s not for everyone, and it takes a toll on those around me, they are still neophytes.
First Night of the Holiday, Reminiscing of Past Gatherings and Siri Maps
We started the holiday Wednesday evening with an outdoor service and picnic dinner. My family has been to this outdoor service each year since its inception about 12 years ago. Usually, Mark (my husband for those of you new to the Brody Bunch Blog), the kids and my parents attend. We are surrounded by a few thousand of our friends and their families. It is a very meaningful event, especially for our family. We reminisce about family jokes such as the year my Dad (Freddie) brought an incredible deli spread with everything one could want (think Carnegie or Katz’s Deli in New York), and Mark complained about the mustard. Freddie said, “Mark, we have about 6 mustards, mayo, horseradish, find something or pass.” Mark said, “Well, I was hoping that we could have mustard that didn’t expire in back 1996.” That’s fair. The mustard was about 4 years older than my youngest child who was about 8 years old at the time. Then there was the time that Freddie grilled a London broil and we had a major gourmet meal. And, my mom forgot to pack the cutlery. Freddie didn’t slice the slab of meat and we had no utensils. So, my Dad and went from family to family, wished them a happy and healthy New Year, and gathered one knife here and two more forks there. This year, I was belted over laughing when this happened: “Rube (that’s what my dad calls me), I am fine. I was lost but I am set.” WTF, I am thinking in my head, we have been here for 12 years in addition to several concerts. Freddie continued, “Well, Siri told me to go this way. And, I did. And, she said to look for parking and walk. So I did. I parked. And I walked. And then I realized I still had a long way to go. So, I got back in the car and drove the rest of the way here.” This story was told as Freddie is walking into the park grounds with three folding chairs and a large mescalin greens salad, which, he announced needed to be tossed. Again, WTF? I brought the main dinner, drinks, four folding chairs, a blanket, a soccer ball and the Brody Bunch was on my last nerves … toss the salad?
Same Prayer with My Parents at Different Times – Tears
As services were underway, I sat on my folding chair in between my Dad and Mark. We sang a prayer called Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ; “Our Father, Our King”) a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well on the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. Freddie, an established musician, and somewhat of a local celebrity, and I were singing the prayer in unison as part of the participating congregation. I was holding back tears because I have memories of this annual service with my Mom and she always cries during this prayer. This time, I held back tears because my Mom was not with us due to health issues. And, I could see the Brody Bunch in the corner of my eyes – some participating and some giggling.
Making A Memory with My Youngest Son, Depending on Rocky to Keep Me on Schedule – and I Knew How Many Hours Remained as We Moved Through Different Stages of our Holiday Plans
After services, it was time for bed. But, I loved spending time with my youngest, Max, 10, still in the kitchen as he cut carrots for the brisket. Yup, we were still prepping a brisket at this point for dinner which was in 19 hours. I set my alarm clock to 1AM, which rings to the “Rocky” theme, so that I could pull the brisket out of the oven for Thursday Night’s Rosh Hashanah dinner. After slicing the brisket until 1:45AM, I discovered that I forgot to order high holiday tickets for the service seating, which was 7 hours later. Sigh, I had so much time to do that.
Showtime – Getting Dressed Like It is a Fire Drill, A New Makeup User Wearing Sneakers and A Photo Shoot
I went back to bed and before I knew it, it was time to get up and ready for services. It was at this point that I realized that we never put away dress clothes from Blanche’s Bat Mitzvah in August which would double up as this year’s high holiday outfits. Giving myself a break, her Bat Mitzvah was four weeks ago, but it seemed like a lifetime ago. Anyway, we were smelling items, shaking out wrinkles, and hoping that we could share items from my magic closet. It was a struggle, but this is also part of the tradition, and somewhat parallel to getting dressed during a fire drill. Unprepared with what 6 people, four of whom are still growing, have to wear that is appropriate, comfortable and not a battle is the worst part of the day, and this is a happy day. We had one defiant child absolutely refuse to get dressed for synagogue. I had to ignore my almost 13 year old who decided that today, of all days, would be a great day to start wearing makeup. So, she was wearing the darkest lipstick and Adidas kicks with her high holiday dress. Another part of the chaos is that I do a photo shoot before we leave for services. There is bickering, but I have a photographic treasure of the annual holidays and traditions, and this is my expectation.
Traffic, Community and The Meaning of the Holiday Clicked For Me
High Holiday traffic in Baltimore trumps Thanksgiving traffic on the New Jersey turnpike, somewhat, use your imagination. When we finally arrived at services, we saw lots of community friends and greeted each other for a happy and healthy New Year. I recognized someone handling seating questions and apologized for my lack of planning. We were fortunate to secure three seats in a standing only Sanctuary, it felt like we needed a scalper for more seat options, but then again, I was seated when we weren’t getting up and sitting down repeatedly throughout the service. I was grateful. My daughters, wandered off and had their own “services” with lots of other kids in the hallways. For the first time, the text that we read each year, FINALLY clicked for me. I sat in the service and reflected upon Teshuvah (repentance), Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedakah (righteousness or justice – giving to those in need) and annoyed that I could not locate the Brody Sisters, and was in self conflict because I was proud that they were together, despite not being where I wanted them to be in services with me.
Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry Soda and Matzo
After our long morning of deprived sleep, getting dressed up, etc, I needed to get out alone. So, I made an emergency Dr. Brown’s diet black cherry replenish run for the Rosh Hashanah dinner. When I saw Passover matzo on sale, I helped the grocery store manager with placement and sales recommendations that Passover matzo, especially on sale, is irrelevant to the Jewish New Year. Look at me, I started the new year doing a Mitzvah, or being a maven, however you want to look at my effort.
Napping and the Hermit Crab (see a previous blog) Disturbed my Rest & As Always I Think We Need More Food
Now, I needed a nap. I was out like a light, and Rachel’s new hermit crab, SHELdon Brody started making noises in his Hermit Crab Hotel. His scratching woke me up. So, with about an hour left before this dinner, I called Mark with a menu report: “We have matzo ball soup, potatoes, carrots, brisket, Caesar salad, challah, acorn squashes, fresh fruit and a large assortment of hors d’Oeuvres from Susan (my former step mother whom I love dearly) and I think I should make a few more vegetables.” The homemade applesauce that Rachel, 11, made, had a hint of garlic to it because apparently I didn’t get all of the garlic out of the food processor from the brisket rub. Oh my goodness.
The Second Night of Rosh Hashanah Falls on Shabbat (another Dinner) and the Chaos is Coming With Me!
We have enough leftovers that I don’t have to cook for the second night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, which also falls on Shabbat. May we find love, laughter, good health, happiness and light on the first Shabbat of the New Year.
This year, I had a lot of personal reflections and recognized that aging parents changes the meaning of the holidays and the way the old chaos worked. I also know that with a lot of love, the new chaos, some self created, and some life changes, works well, because I have a strong support system when it’s time to rise to the occasion. At the first night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, Mark, my parents, Susan and I did lots of planning while the kids called their grandparents in Pittsburgh and Aunts and Uncles have been called over the past few days, family is what this is all about.
Intellectually, I recognize that I shouldn’t be rushing and unorganized during holidays but I do enjoy the mishigas (the craziness) and I already brought that into the New Year, with the help of the Brody Bunch. From my family to your family, may it be a sweet New Year for all!