Some thoughts on the year past

Don’t get me wrong.  I was born a Jew and I’ll not only die one but it’s a sure thing–Buddhist meditation, love of Jesus, devotion to Krishna, the Tao Te Ching and the wisdom of the Koran notwithstanding–I’ll still spend all the time between those two events being a Jew.  This isn’t about that.  It’s about making use of Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish new year, and it’s companion, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.  This is the time of year when we traditionally take account of the past year to identify and atone for our sins.  Another way to see this is that this is the time when we clear away the trash of the past, the ego-based guilts and sadnesses of the past twelve months, to clear space for God’s grace in the coming year.

Those of you who’ve been following this blog pretty much know of my bigger blunders, those conflicts ultimately based on my (at the time) sincere belief that I was right and someone else was wrong.  I’ve tried to write about them in ways that indicate that, at least in hindsight, I was no longer being taken in by my own sense of superiority, righteous indignation, hope or fear.  I hope that came through.

There’s been another attempt to escape from egocentricity.  Simply put: a reaching out to make this blog a bit more about us and not about just me.    Frequently I’ve included in my email announcements the hope that you’d contribute comments.  There was a request that you write about your work or submit a six word autobiography or supply a caption for a photo.  Recently I posted Goldie Silverman’s Rosh Hashonah poem, Tashlik 2000.

I found an unexpected ally in in this pursuit, Facebook, using it to reconnect with several of the folks I knew and in some cases undoubtedly offended (or at least irritated) as an angry, moody,  drug-propelled film editor or an equally arrogant student or club bike rider or even family member.   I identified presenting myself as open to take the shit accumulated in the past  as a form of atonement: to be ready for and willing to accept that a significant part of the world wasn’t waiting for me with bouquets of fresh picked chrysanthemums and gracious welcoming smiles.  Each time I sent out one of those Friend requests my mouse finger trembled.  Blissfully, several responded warmly to my befriending requests.  In a few cases there have been actual reunions with the expressed intention of maintaining contact in the future.  In other cases there have been no responses.

All that said, in the Facebook words of Fredric D. Rosenberg, who’s said it so well and will probably not hurt me for quoting him without permission,

This is going to sound strange, but if I hurt you in any way in the last year and have not apologized and made amends before now, I am sorry. I will try to do better in the future. Let the fast begin.


Published in: on September 27, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Comments (5)  
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My Summer by Dickie G, age 67 and 3/4

Here are 20 point-and-shoots taken over the Summer.

Brooklyn Cyclones at Staten Island Yankees


Bobbie & Mike


IMG_1433Lew & April & Jason & Cori


Graeme & Emily’s Horse Farm


It’s a lazy day…


Same day, joyful day!


Las Senadoras



IMG_1364Summer Sky, NYC


Route 76, Pennsylvania


NY400 celebration, NYC


Edgar retires


Ron loving retirement


(A Drawing for Alix)


Circle Line Music Cruise


Amsterdam Avenue Street Fair

IMG_1774From the High Line

IMG_1798On the High Line


IMG_1962Late summer sun


Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 10:17 am  Comments (5)  

Rosh Hashanah

On Sat, Sep 5, 2009 at 4:39 PM, Goldie Silverman  wrote:
Hi, Richard,
I wrote this poem years ago. Happy New Year.


(tash-leek, the custom of emptying crumbs from the pockets and throwing them into moving waters on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, symbolic of tossing away one’s sins.)

“We might return,” they said, “but not to that,
A swollen mass of unfamiliar faces.”
Bet Am, house of the people, a place grown strange to children long departed.
No rows of folding chairs for them,
No unknown pulpit faces, unknown tunes.
Conditions met.
We chose instead to separate ourselves,
To look for God,
If God exists,
Upon a mountain, by a lake, under an open sky.
So came we together from our scattered homes
To welcome year fifty-seven sixty-one.
And even though the rain soaked through our clothes,
And heaven’s gray obscured the mountain top,
We spread the plastic over holy words,
Read psalms and searched the recesses in our hearts.
The stream we found ran foamy brown like laundry after playing in the mud.
We tossed our crumbs and threw away our greed,
Our stubbornness, our arrogance and pride.
Three generations, like Sinai, standing in the rain.
I looked at these, my immortality.
“Let the sun not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.”
We lifted up our eyes and knew the source.

Goldie part lake part screen

Pic by Zoe for NB newsletter

My poem was a riff on Psalm 121, which begins, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,” and includes the lines, “The sun shall not smite thee by day, Nor the moon at night.”  I wrote the poem the year my three children all agreed to come home for Rosh Hashonah, provided they were not forced to go to services at the synagogue they had grown up in, which had changed much from the years they remembered.

There is also a line in Pirke Avot: “Do not separate yourself from the congregation,…”

We compromised that year by attending the evening service, but in the morning we drove up into the mountains for Tashlik, and it poured! My daughter brought a service that we put into plastic bags, and we read it and Psalm 121, my favorite, because I have a view of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier from my house.

Goldie and I met in Morocco in December of 2007.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 8:58 pm  Comments (1)