Rosh Hashana is the only new year that I have to be reminded of. If my dental office can call me three days before my appointment I would expect Chabad's solicitation letter much earlier in the week. I only found out on Friday that Rosh Hashana would fall on Monday. It's hard calling in sick. It's even harder calling in Jewish. I have two floating holidays which means I must observe selectively. I'll reserve those days for Yom Kippur and the next Jewish holiday someone happens to mention.
You don't have to go to services to celebrate the new year. In fact, I celebrated that I did not have to go to services. My parents didn't go either. They streamed services online. That takes a special kind of patience, especially on their computer which Moses used to publish the Ten Commandments.
The holidays are about spending time with friends and family anyway. Fortunately, I was in San Diego over the weekend where I spent quality time with my family and my parent's friends, Bill and Karen from State College, PA. They are retired and spend their time traveling having recently returned from a trip to Iceland.
“Are there any Jews in Iceland?” I asked.
“The Icebergs,” Said Bill who instantly became my favorite person in California.
He and my dad went to high school together and became good friends after graduating from Penn State. I have memories as a kid visiting the Creamery at Penn State and hanging out at their house watching my dad and Bill drink bottled beer. When they visited us in Pittsburgh Bill would sing songs from the Doo Wop era in our living room and reminisce about hot dog and ice creams shops that weren't around anymore. Now in their mid 60's the two of them were boogey boarding in Coronado. They somehow made it to this decade. I couldn't help but think that's the way it's supposed to be.
While they were in the ocean, Karen told West Virginia jokes like the one about how West Virginia is where the tooth brush was invented. That's why it's not called a “teeth brush.” I was also told West Virginians have a new use for sheep...wool.
Back on land, Bill and I bonded over our interest in stocks and even made an investment together in a $3 lottery scratcher. Our investment team is seeing 125% return which means we are up a $1. Dropping Bill and Karen off at the airport, Bill remarked “This was really a great time. I'd give it an A-.” Hopefully we can get Karen to give us 4 stars on Yelp.
Thanks to Bill, I used my scratcher winnings to re-invest in the lottery. I hit the power spot on the 7's for an instant $20 and continued to scratch and win to the point that I won $86 cash. Some of that money would be used that night for family poker with my Aunt Barb, Uncle Larry and my Cousin Ari, a hero of mine as a kid, now celebrating nearly a year of sobriety. For dinner My mom and Aunt Barb served some flavorful rice and curry dishes. Uncle Larry, as is his custom, toasted without Aunt Barb anywhere near the table.
“Why do you always do that?” She asked.
“Here's to Barbara, the matron of the house!” He toasted.
The six of us played Texas Hold Em' and reminisced about how Leona, my grandma who passed away last June, would say the word “possible” to indicate a flush draw no matter how the flop was dealt. Aunt Barb called me on several bluffs and an All-In call against Uncle Larry was not enough for me or Ari to remain in the game. The two of us played Mario Kart like we were 12 years old while Uncle Larry and my dad took first and second.
On Sunday morning my mom and I skyped my sister Ariel, and my nine month old niece, Dylan who can now stand on her own. I told Dylan I would drive her to middle school. She then crawled onto the keyboard and changed Ariel's network settings.
My mom made me a strong cup of coffee and told me that she wants more Jewish babies. “It's up to you to teach your kids about Judiasm,” my mom said.
“Mary-Katherine and Christopher will both be sent to Hebrew School,” I assured her.
They'll spend the Jewish new year with family and friends. I'll just need someone to remind them.