Good morning and greetings, High Holy Day fans. Coming up Wednesday night, people of my tribe will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It’s basically the same as Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but with a slightly kosher twist.
Instead of a huge ball dropping in Times Square, we start the countdown in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. At the count of 10, a hand-made matzoh ball, about the size of a volleyball, gets passed around the table, and at 1, this tasty little dumpling made of butter, eggs, salt, pepper and some finely minced parsely plops down into the chicken soup and the celebration begins.
Of course, I’m just kidding. It’s more like the size of a tennis ball.
Rosh Hashanah is a day when we stay home from work, which isn’t a stretch for me. It’s an occasion when children of other religions wonder, “why can’t I be Jewish” and “what’s this bar mitzvah deal all about?” Hey, membership has its privileges.
And it is a time for introspection, to look within and without at the mistakes of the past year. I tend to gloss over this part rather quickly, as I tend not to want to dwell on the past, because I’m bound to make the the same mistakes in the future.
It is also a time to plan changes to be made in the new year, but I tend to file that under the “later” or “never” department. Snails are laughing at the speed I make changes.
Food is a big deal on this holiday, as we like to start off the new year with a good taste in our mouths and minds. So on the first night we dip apple slices (I prefer fuji or golden delicious) into honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year and for the Dow Jones to stay above 17,000.
Every Friday night, we have a Shabbat dinner with the family, which during the school year includes just my wife and myself, as our son is off at college and my daughter is off to the Hamptons on weekends. On this night we begin with the prayer over the Kedem Pure Grape Juice, my wine of choice.
We also eat a braided egg bread called a challah, which my wife used to make but we now purchase downtown at Noah’s, where their classic New York signature gourmet bagels are fresh-baked in-store every day.
The challah is usually shaped like a football, but on Rosh Hashanah they make them round with raisins, symbolizing the continuation of life and the celebration of the New York Giants picking up their first win of the season.
For me, it’s all about the meal. My wife is very much into the songs and prayers. I am too, in that I’m praying the service will end soon so we can move on to the culinary portion of the program.
So throw in some sweet brisket, honey cake and some freshly caught gefilte fish, and it’s a merry new year. All that’s left is the blowing of the chaufeur, er shorfar. We blow this ram’s horn on the holiday to call to mind the beginning of the new year, to remind people that the British are coming, to recall the inspiring words of the prophets and the hope that one day NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL will take domestic violence as seriously as his Super Bowl Sunday sponsors. Shofar it hasn’t been so good.
Now not only is Rosh Hashanah the start of the high holy days, but it also kicks off the new fall TV season. But I’m still reeling after seeing the opening episode of the “Sons of Anarchy,” as I can no longer recommend it as a family show.
The two-hour premier was shocking from the start, as the brutality, torture and savagery was way over the top. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a drama series about an outlaw motorcyle club or a recruiting tape for ISIS. But it will all come to an end soon, as in the words of executive producer Paris Barclay, “We can’t kill everybody.”
But there is good viewing on the way. Returning shows like “Newsroom,” and “Boardwalk Empire” are in their final season. “Parenthood” is ending its powerful run and creator Jason Katims of “Friday Night Lights” fame says his goal “is a great finish.” You can bet on it.
James Spader and “The Blacklist” returns tonight, and if you can get beyond Megan Boone’s wig and acting you might want to tune in.
So if you’re in need of some entertainment, tune in a “Justified,” “The Americans,” “The Good Wife,” “Ray Donovan,” “House of Cards,” ‘Homeland,” “Mad Men,” or “The Bridge.” These shows are written by the best in the business.
I’m not saying watching television is better than reading a good book. There have been many times I couldn’t put a book down, but I’ve never had trouble turning the TV off.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of good programming to choose from. So enjoy this magic box for what it is. Adulthood is a short season.
So since this is the start of the new year, I figure it is only right to close out the old one. These photos are from the evening of February 20, the final glorious sunset from last winter. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue, and what made this night special was the glow and colors that stuck around long after the sun had set.
It was a proper sendoff, as the sky filled with ribbons of orange clouds before turning impressively red for the locals on West Cliff.
On to some late night humor. “During a speech last night, President Obama announced that the U.S. will lead a huge multinational coalition to fight the terror groups in Iraq. Of course, most people just turned it off because they thought it was a rerun.” – Jimmy Fallon “In his speech the other night, President Obama announced that he’s counting on the support of an international coalition. Right now, we can’t get the support of the International House of Pancakes. – David Letterman
“They’re now selling parking places in New York. You can buy a premium parking place for $1 million. When President Obama heard that, he said, “Hey, wait a minute. I’ll give you $2 million if you will take the place I’m in.” New York City is now selling something like 10 prime parking spots. Each parking spot will cost you a million dollars. In a related story, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will pay you a million dollars for the spot he’s in. – David Letterman
A Michigan funeral home is offering a drive-thru viewing option. Or as they’re calling it, “Jack Actually in the Box.” – Conan O’Brien “At San Francisco’s airport last Tuesday, customs officials confiscated 20 giant millipedes. You should never bring a millipede on an airplane. There’s just not enough leg room.” – Craig Ferguson
“Earlier tonight President Obama spoke to Americans. Obama is getting tough with ISIS. He’s now going to force them to sell their NBA team.” – David Letterman “It’s been discovered that a healthy 24-year-old woman in China has lived her whole life without a major part of her brain. Scientists are calling her “the lost Kardashian.” – Seth Meyers
So let me say l’shanah tovah, which means have a good year and never take the Raiders and the points. We’ll catch you ending your Hall of Fame career and playing your final home game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.