It's a New Year (for some people) and it's a new blog for me.
Some people reading this know that I started a new job a few weeks ago at a Reform Jewish Temple, and it's opened my eyes to a lot of things. For one thing, I never knew it would be considered polite to ask a person you just met "Are you Jewish?" This still isn't something your Gentile narrator is going to be asking, but I think it's cool that people just get it out there, with all the neighbourly informality with which folks in New Orleans used to ask me "Where y'at? How ya mama an 'em?"
On Tuesday afternoon (Rosh HaShanah), I was walking north up Broadway at Berwyn (I think 5 lanes across at that point) and a handful of teenage Orthodox boys in their fedoras, etc. hollered at me across the expanse from the opposite sidewalk "Are you Jewish?"
I don't know if it was the suit or the beard I'm sporting (which might actually look like a beard from across the street even if it looks like a preschool macaroni picture up close) or just the fact that I wasn't at work at three in the afternoon. I was flattered. I hollered back, across the traffic. "Me? No."
They kept smiling and waved with no less enthusiasm. "OK!"
Then I realized what I should have said earlier. "L'Shanah Tovah!" I yelled as the bus went by.
They shouted back "What?"
They responded in kind like I'd made their day. That was cool. They'd kind of made mine.
I wanted to walk around all day wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I forebore because of my relative ignorance of custom and my fear of accidentally offending someone. Still, in light of recent developments in my personal, professional, and metaphysical (albeit gleefully atheistic) lives, I was feeling Happy New Year. I'm still feeling it. I hope yours and mine are outstanding.
Check back wheneverly: I'll try to keep this page up.