I have given much thought to this piece. Some of you might not like it. Some of you might not understand it. But, I felt that it had to be written. What I have come to learn over the past 18 years of marriage is that the High Holiday season sometimes does not seem too high and feels like it lasts way longer than any season. I think it is because we all believe, deep, deep down, that the Jewish Holidays are supposed to bring us closer together —whole families sitting around the table, eating delectable treats, talking about their hopes and dreams for the year, really spending quality time together—unless, of course, you don’t like your family. Or, you don’t spend the holidays with your family because they like your siblings better.
In any event, I have come to learn that you just have to make the best of it. When I bring out the new fruit for Rosh Hashanah (which at my house, could theoretically be an apple…I know, bad parent, bad parent), we all have a good chuckle watching the boys attempt to bite into a star fruit or a prickly pear or a queen pineapple. (Julio’s [the elite produce store in Teaneck] makes out quite well this time of year as they can charge whatever they want for these “new fruits,” but they do add quite a bit to the holiday table, if not for a spiritual twist, then for the humorous one. )
Anyway, all of these holidays involve a great deal of synagogue time. That is never good for a marriage, unless you like it when your spouse is always in synagogue. So, I guess, the ruling is out on that one. Though, maybe we miss them so much when they are in shul that we cannot wait to see them when it is over. Ya, that’s it. We are so excited to see them when the services are over because then we can go home and they can help us prepare the next meal. No, wait, I was hallucinating again. We go home and prepare the meal, set the table, make everything look nice and they come home, spiritually recharged of course, and ready to eat the meal and then take a nap—because if you nap on Rosh Hashanah, you will nap all year along. That sounds about right.
Yom Kippur is a different animal altogether. It is very serious, everything has to be just so, especially when it falls out on Shabbos, which makes it extra holy. We need to be on our extra good behavior. “No honey, it is okay if you come home 15 minutes before we have to eat. The kids will all be dressed and the food will be prepared. You just come in, take a nice shower and come down when you are ready.” Yes, that is how it is in my house all the time, so why not erev Yom Kippur as well? Wait, that isn’t how it is in your house? I don’t believe you? Your husband runs around the house setting the timers and putting away any cord associated with a computer or an iPod and yells at the kids to get the house in order? Never in our calm, quiet, organized home. We are the essence of shalom bayit.
So Yom Kippur is over, we pray that we will all have a happy and healthy year with a good outcome and not one that involves strangulation. On to the next holiday. Sukkot.
I actually consulted a real rabbi before writing about this one. We celebrate Sukkot to symbolize the huts that the Jews built in the desert. Were there no divorces in the desert? Was there never a wife saying to her husband, “Really, you still can’t figure out how to put the hut together yourself? We have to ask Moshe Rabbeynu again?” Was there no divorce in the Bible because men could have many wives? But didn’t they all drive him crazy? I take Sukkot very personally because it is outside and if Doctor Phil ever makes a visit to Teaneck and hears the crazy lady on Hastings Street (I am only referring to myself, not the other crazy ladies, God forbid! )screaming at her husband to put the sukkah together…I mean don’t any of you hear the screaming, “I gave you three sons so there should be no reason why I am the one of the ladder!!!!”
Ah, the joy of the Jewish holidays. So maybe, they aren’t to bring us closer together, but to make us realize why we are together. Because we can act the way we do, scream the way we do, and after we put away the poles and the canvas, we realize that just like our ancestors survived in the desert, so did we survive in the suburbs. But without polygamy….
Hoping you all survived the holidays with big smiles on your faces and less than five pounds added elsewhere.
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow