As some of you know about a week ago was the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. The first ten days of the new year, leading up to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are a very important time meant for introspection. Jewish tradition often refers to books that are written on Rosh Hashanah for the coming year, but are not sealed by G-d until Yom Kippur. The Days of Awe are a time wherein we still have the chance to change what it written in the book, to change the coming year and how we will approach it.
This period of time was especially meaningful and transitional for me. As I said in my last post I was in Paris last weekend, just a few days after the New Year, there I had the chance to meet up with some old friends, and make many new ones.
Within a couple days of returning to Aix, I FINALLY moved into the apartment with Jenny. It was a long and difficult process, full of many setbacks and disappointments, but we finally made it and the success was all the sweeter for it as was the timing as I celebrated the sweet new year (shame I forgot the apples and honey!) and entering my new home with friends that night.
Then, the next day, I had my first day of work (or of orientation at least). I have now been in contact with all three of the schools I will be working at, and have started the paperwork for getting paid, my healthcare, and many other frustrating but important administrative tasks. Despite the annoyance, however, it is an important transitional step into starting my new job as an English teacher, and I am so excited (if a little nervous) to begin.
So as I sat in temple yesterday, listening to the Yom Kippur prayers (and the occasional growls of my stomach as Yom Kippur is also a fast day) I couldn’t help but be pleased with how I am approaching this year. At one point during the service, I was even called up unexpectedly to do an Aliyah (reading a blessing in Hebrew before and after the Torah reading), which is a very great honor. It was also, however, very nerve-wracking to go up in front of a new community of strange faces, with many strange traditions mixed in with my familiar ones. But I am here to teach other about my own culture, as I learn simultaneously about theirs. And so despite a couple startled looks as I dragged my new American friend up with me (we were the only people to go up in a pair) and we sang (instead of reading as the others before us had) the blessing I felt very fulfilled. I think I used my first ten days of the year very well. I have learned a lot and am approaching the new year with a happy and excited attitude, ready for anything.
I have been through some stressful times the past couple weeks, but I am proud of how I have overcome the challenges, and I think I can face the new year (5775) knowing that I did my best in the past, and will do even better in the future as I know I can overcome anything in the many new adventures and experiences that await me.
On Rosh Hashanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
Chag Sameach and L’shanah Tovah!