In just a few days, Jews all around the world will gather together for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We will sit in synagogue, listening to many of the same melodies heard and sung by our grandparents and great-grandparents. We will partake in customs that Jews pass down from generation to generation. The customs vary. Perhaps we eat a special apple cake recipe a relative introduced into the family. Others might engage in a Rosh Hashana seder, eating foods that symbolize life and sweetness for the new year. Many will adorn white on Yom Kippur and walk to synagogue, reminiscent of the ways they grew up, teaching their children to take the same steps as the adults did when they were young.
My husband and I now speak about the traditions we want our own children and family to adopt. Some traditions are ones handed down to us, but with excitement and a little curiosity, we are finding ways to introduce our own. During the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the table is decorated with little honey pots and beautiful plates that hold arrays of different apples. This year we will try to make our very first round challah. Blending the sacred traditions of our past and now our present, we are finding ways to call these very precious holidays our own.
As Tevye is known for saying, “Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!” Our traditions—old and new—ground us. We feel beholden to our faith as our traditions guide us spiritually through the details of each holiday celebration.
What is your tradition? Share it with those you love. Share it here. May your traditions of yesterday and your traditions of tomorrow engage you during these Days of Awe. And if you question which custom is yours to call your own…it is never too late to grasp onto something new. Your idea may become someone’s well-loved tradition in years to come.