At that time of year again. Labor Day is September 5, and fall arrives on September 22. The Jewish New Year begins at sunset on September 25, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on October 4.
Growing up Jewish, I was taught that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are “high feasts.” But later I learned that the Reformation of Judaism refers to them as the supreme holy days. I prefer what I grew up with, which seems less expensive, but I don’t think it’s worth it to finish fighting.
Fall is also the time when our New England landscape becomes bookish and puts on a layer of many colours, often called “fallen foliage.” The fact that this coincides with Jewish holidays is interesting. One indicates the end, while the other indicates the beginning.
I was afraid of falling for several reasons. Unlike my grandchildren, I didn’t like going back to school, which meant less time to play baseball. I wasn’t looking forward to chipping away the foliage, which took me off the field. And sitting in the temple on feasts was, how else could I put it, boring. A fourth reason comes to mind — the end of the Major League Baseball season, although this year can’t come soon enough for Red Sox fans like me.
As for temple seating, you can’t do that in Claremont anymore. Institutions do not have eternal life, and for Meyer David devotees, this fall marks the end.. I haven’t been inside the temple building in many years. Boring or not, I would only go back once, but it was too late.
However, the foliage still works. I don’t plan on doing a lot of combing, I’ll admit, but Jaffray’s Gilmore Pond will take on new colors, reflecting the trees that surround it. It’s a scene that always looks new no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Then there is our country. I recently gave a talk with a group of Massachusetts attorneys, and I wasn’t optimistic about the state of American democracy and the rule of law. During the discussion, a woman said she agreed with me but added, “There is always hope.”
My reaction was that hope should not be used as a crutch to hide reality. People often refer to hope when they don’t want to face facts. When I made this comment, I began to identify myself as a convert to pessimism.
I shouldn’t be too dismissive. When people talk about hope, they are only positive. They refuse to see only the dark side. And when it comes to the community, whether it’s local, state or national, they just want to help make the world a better place, live at peace with their neighbors and do what they can to restore harmony with nature. I can log into that kind of hope.
another thing. If we are lucky enough to have grandchildren, as I am, we want to enjoy being with them and watching them grow up. On this subject, I must add one holiday to those mentioned at the beginning of this article - September 11 is Grandparents’ Day.
Autumn is the time not only to atone for our bad deeds (if you are a Jew) but also to focus on our blessings (regardless of your religion or not), and that is what I decided to do. But in the meantime, summer is not over yet, and the leaves are still green.
Joseph de Steinfeld lives in Kane and Jaffrey. He can be reached at [email protected].