a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Shana Tovah!

Posted on: September 8, 2010

Tonight is Erev Rosh Hashanah, or Rosh Hashanah Eve and it is the start of a lot of things for me.  First and foremost, it’s the beginning of my year of observing kashrut, or Kosher dietary laws.  My style of kosher will definitely not be “kosher” in that there are many things that I cannot functionally do given the space restrictions of my apartment.  For instance, I cannot have separate cutlery, cookery, or crockery for meat and dairy dishes.  I also cannot have separate cabinets for them or space in the refrigerator for the separation.  That said, I’ll try my best to do what I can do given the space that I have.

I’ve spent the majority of Elul clearing my house of all non-kosher things.  The only thing I have left in my refrigerator that is not kosher is my favorite Irish butter.  I love it, but I’m giving it to Mirs.  I’ve also been wrestling with the dining out and dining at friends scenarios that will surely come and I’ve decided that I will always opt for the vegetarian options rather than scoff off an invitation to eat.  The beauty of having so many veggie lesbians as friends means that there is always a guaranteed vegan option or three at any gathering of friends.  As far as dining out goes, thank goodness I live in NYC and there are kosher options for nearly every style of cuisine from Indian to a good old American steak.

I’ve decided to break up the High Holidays between a few different shuls on my list of permanent homes to-be stating tonight.  I’ve been spending a lot of time reading in all of my 15 books about Rosh Hashanah services as well as scouring the internet for advice and I’ve got to admit that I’m a little bit nervous.

When I first read about the High Holidays I thought it was all very poetic.  The image of a giant book being opened on Rosh Hashanah to be finally closed on Yom Kippur was an awe-inspiring one but just a visualization at first.  After my conversion classes discussion on the significance of both Holidays it became a bit more serious.  During the month Elul we’re supposed to account for our sins, make amends with people we have wronged, in any way, and prepare ourselves to essentially be judged by G-d.

Instead of all of that, I spent the month cursing the insurance company that has still not given me an answer for my worker’s comp claim, I’ve cursed my job for putting me in a situation that’s caused me to injure myself and therefore, rendered me unable to work or do anything physical.  To be honest, I’ve been moping and cursing folks in the time of the year that I’m supposed to be asking people for forgiveness.  Luckily I learned about Tashlikh.  The afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah when you can “put” your sins on a stone or piece of bread and toss it into a moving body of water for them to be carried away.

I’m well aware that besides the last month of anger and cursing I’ve done my fair share of sinning and while I don’t want to spend my day wallowing in all the wrong that I’ve done, acknowledging it is key.  I’d rather spend these days thinking about what I’ve done in the past year-both positive and negative, and think of ways that I can change them in the future-for the next year.

So this evening and tomorrow I’ll be celebrating the New Year.  We got invited for Rosh Hashanah dinner at our Israeli friend’s home.  I’m making black-eyed peas.  I love the cross over of traditions between blacks and Jews and in an article I read yesterday black-eyed peas on Rosh Hashanah is a way that we are linked, yet again.  I’m not going to paraphrase the article, because it’s too good.  Instead, take some time and read it and I wish you all a sweet New Year!


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