She’s always smiling, pouring coffee, bringing the dijon mustard before the regular customer even requests it. Leeza owns a popular breakfast joint near where my parents live, and she is a happy person, welcoming customers and asking how they are.
On her arm is a decorative cross tattoo. Around her neck she wears a beautiful cross. She is not Jewish, but many of her clients are and so on this, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, she speaks the language and related to her customers as they are.
“A happy and healthy new year for all of us, even those who are not Jewish,” she says. “The holidays give us something to look forward to.”
I don’t know what she believes, and she probably doesn’t know much about what I believe. She knows that today is the second day of one of my most important holidays.
It is this mutual respect that makes the world go round and gives us hope for peace.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who live and let live, wishing everyone well, in whatever manner or meaning they find it, and those who try to convince everybody that they and only they are right.
I don’t have to tell you which kind is my preference.
On this day on the Jewish calendar, we take stock of ourselves, and beseech the lord above to gaze favorably on us for the coming year. We welcome the new year with hope and gladness, and next week we atone for sins of the past.
Today, we can usher in a new year because we are filled with hope that the new year will unfold and all will be forgiven when we reach the Day of Atonement in just over a week from now. That hope is what carries us forward, as I wrote in this blog yesterday.
I don’t need to convince you that I am right. It’s enough to know that I believe it. Everything will shake out as it should, which is the only way we can walk hand-in-hand into the future.
When I stepped into the Orthodox synagogue where my son was chanting Torah today, my younger son came blazing out of nowhere to engulf me in a hug. It was a precious moment, but I wondered where he had come from, he was like a bullet from a corner or a ray of light, unseen before its arrival.
That knowing, that’s what we have to trust.
In the synagogue, I sat with my daughter and the rabbi’s lovely wife, who is always so kind and welcoming. She didn’t admonish me for living differently than she believes or wearing clothes that aren’t quite the uniform in her world. No, she welcomed me with a kiss and a happy new year, and I felt more welcome than if she had shaken a finger and looked down her nose at me.
It is love and acceptance that will get the message across best and most convincingly. Not finger-wagging, nor I-told-you-sos. As we step into a new dawn, let’s remember that.