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Tonight my family will celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, with customs from my children’s ancestors, that are not my own. My husband’s ancestors hail from Poland. Jonathan’s grandfather was forced from his land in Poland as a teenager during World War II, survived the war and the Gulag, and made his way to Israel. There he met Jonathan’s Grandmother, who was on a trip from Brazil, where she immigrated from Palestine as a young child in the 1930s. Jonathan’s father immigrated to the United States just a few years before Jonathan was born.
The customs of these High Holy Days connect my family to the grief and grit of their ancestors in a way I can only begin to touch the depth of.
Jonathan’s Mother, as it was customary at the time, gave up her Christian traditions and converted to uphold and protect the lineage of Jonathan and his brother and sister. It was a sacrifice of love that I would not have the stomach for.
When I was pregnant with Marshall, I had nightmares of the holocaust, of the mass suicide at Masada and other horrific scars in the Jewish history. Whether I was seeing scenes from my unborn child’s past, feeling the traumas that he inherited from his lineage or being prepared to Mother a jewish boy, the gravity of my role took root.
I came to this life to be a healer and wisdom keeper. I am this in my work and in my Mothering, so I know that I have a very important role to play in rooting these Jewish ancestral ways in my children’s lives and guiding them in healing ancestral trauma.
Today I am asking myself, how can I use these High Holy Days for healing? How can I impart wisdom to my children? How I can help them remember who they are?
It would be easy for me to go through the rote rehearsal of traditions or shy away from them because of the strong Patriarchal threads in Judaism… but I am choosing to go deeper, to remember ancestral ways and to feel my own connection to these traditions.
Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the birth of the World, the Jewish New Year, and marks the beginning of a 10 day devotional practice of repentance which ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On Rosh Hashanah we dip apples in honey “for sweet new year” and eat round challah to symbolize the cyclical nature of life. The 10 days that follow, called the Days of Awe are a time to right wrongs, apologize to people we’ve hurt and mend relationships. It is said that this is the time God decides who will live or die the following year.
For me, the magic is in where I see the threads that bind these Jewish traditions to my own.
My pre-christian ancestors also celebrated the New Year in the Fall, but on Samhain (Now known as Halloween) where we honored the dead and what is dying in us, so we emerge re-born. On Mabon (the Fall Equinox) we celebrate the harvest, fill our altars with sliced apples to reveal the sacred 5 pointed star that represents the elements and our elemental magic. We throw apples in the fire for scrying, and reflect on the past year and what we want to release.
Outside I see the leaves dying a beautiful death, and releasing to the ground to be turned into compost for new life.
On Thursday I did ceremony for the New Moon and felt the new beginning that comes every 29 days, and Dori Midnight (a wonderful resource), speaks about how Rosh Hashanah is the New Moon of New Moons.
In my Sacred Feminine tradition I have reclaimed Eve as a rebellious Wild Woman who was summoned by the sensual, kundalini snake to eat the apple and awaken her sacred body and be one with wisdom and Earthly pleasures.
So tonight instead of going through the motions, I’ll weave a spell with the apples and honey of protection, health and abundance for myself and my family. I’ll whisper prayers into the honey cake for our world to heal. We’ll talk about the ancestors, their joy, resilience and pain.
I’ll spend the Days of Awe meeting my sadness, grief and shame so that it may be transmuted into negredo for the Earth to sip, and Yom Kippur in as much silence and contemplation as I can whilst parenting. This process of meeting our shadows and going inward are core pillars of a Sacred Feminine practice.
So as we creep closer to the night taking over the day, may we all settle into the wisdom of this time, no matter the lineage we come from. It is a time to remember our joy, to release grudges towards others and ourselves, and to pray and work for a better world that is showing us how deeply she has been hurting.
I believe that the deeper we connect with ourselves, our family, our lineage, the magic, symbolism and power of the natural world, the more tuned in we are to the needs of others, and the more resourced we are to help.
This time is here to remember the feeling of deep reverence and connection. We’ve been spinning and living above the depths of our love for too long. I pray that we can all return to what’s real.
All my love and Shana Tova,
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