by Laura Weisskopf Bleill
Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Today is a day when we will eat our (honeycrisp) apples and honey, hear the shofar (ram’s horn) blown, and spend time with friends and family — capped off by a delicious dinner my mother has been preparing for weeks.
But Rosh Hashanah is about much more than that. Its themes are wide-ranging; it is a time of great joy, while also the beginning of a 10-day period of introspection. It is a day to celebrate G-d creating the world, as well as ourselves. (My 4-year-old has really grabbed onto the part about Rosh Hashanah being the birthday of the world. She keeps singing Happy Birthday world over and over again.) It is also, according to tradition, the Day of Judgement, when G-d remembers all human deeds over the past year — and judges them.
It is a time when we are supposed to take stock of ourselves as we enter the New Year. It is customary for many people to ask friends and family — or anyone you may have hurt during the past year — for forgiveness. “Tradition teaches us that for sins between the individual and God, forgiveness is guaranteed, but for forgiveness between one individual and another, we must actively seek their forgiveness.”
My senior year in college I lived in an off-campus apartment with two roommates, one of them my best friend. Despite having lived together before, our place turned into a battle zone; we barely spoke. I moved out without saying goodbye to her.
For a long time I stewed over the situation and tried to place blame. But after a while I recognized that my anger at her had transformed into something totally different. I tried to understand why we both behaved the way we did. And I came to the conclusion: I really missed her. My family missed her too; while we were at Northwestern she had spent many a holiday in my parents’ home. And, I wanted to ask her for forgiveness for my dreadful behavior.
This was just before the age of smartphones, Facebook, Twitter and everything else that keeps us all uber-connected to one another. I didn’t really know where to contact her, and although I had means to track down her number, it seemed so awkward to just call her up out of the blue.
But I had a premonition our paths would cross. And they did, at an Indigo Girls concert at The Chicago Theatre. We literally ran into each other. And we both started bawling. We both said, almost silmultaneously, how sorry we were. And how much we missed each other. It had been two and a half years since we lived together, but about three and a half since we had lost our friendship.
As it turned out, my friend had been feeling the exact same way those months before. During a visit to Israel, she had even placed in the Western Wall a prayer asking G-d to bring us back to one another.
I have been blessed (and I don’t use that word lightly) to have her back in my life. We instantly reconnected, quickly bypassing any awkward feelings, neither one of us expecting how seamless it would be. And time marched on. We stood up in each other’s weddings, dancing the hora together. We were pregnant simultaneously – both times — and have celebrated our children’s baby namings and bris together. And she was there for me as I mourned the great loss of my grandmother earlier this year. It is as if our hearts were never separate.
Tonight, we will be together again at my mother’s table celebrating Rosh Hashanah — as it should be. Once again we may tell each other how very sorry we are, because we know what it means — and how powerful those words truly can be.
Laura Weisskopf Bleill, a co-founder of chambanamoms.com, wishes all of you who celebrate a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. She writes “Being a Jew in C-U,” a column about being a Jewish suburban girl in a cornfield, on Thursdays. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.