Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Still life with a full cup

Tonight we begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year holy days. I baked the challah I always bake so I can sit with my family for a festive meal. I measured the dry ingredients and I cracked the eggs and I beat them in a humble measuring cup, my favorite measuring cup.

I love this plain cup for its three different spouts and I thought that meant it was once my grandmother's, because in a family of right-handed people only she was left-handed and only I am left-handed and I know she would have loved her choice of spout and isn't it nice to think about these inter-generational connections when I'm baking for my family? But then my mother confused my reverie and told me that this cup was, in fact, my great-grandmother's. A woman named Agnes, whom I never met, probably used it to make treats for her son, my grandfather, my daughter's namesake.

Today there is me, and once there was Agnes, and tonight we celebrate the 5771 years of the world's history according to Jewish tradition, and in every one of those years there were always women striving to feed their families.

In Judaism it's okay to doubt God as long as you keep questioning and I always think what a relief, because how can anyone know about anything as incomprehensible as God? But I can know about feeding my family through love and tired forearms, just as my grandmother did, and her mother-in-law Agnes, and 5771 years of humanity and hungry bellies. I don't know if I can articulate my religious faith but I can articulate my place in that line, in the line of women spanning back millenia until the time when history and religious tenets were being created all at the same time, twisted up together, just like my challah.

Shanah tovah u'metukah, friends. A sweet new year for all of us. Pin It