Posted in Contests, holidays, Judaism, Religion

The Beauty of Autumn

In memory of all those who perished 74 years ago today on Krystallnacht. When I reclaimed my soul’s birthright at age 18, I made sure to schedule my mikvah date for 9 November 1998, the 60th anniversary of Krystallnacht.

Today begins the Autumn’s Harvest Blog Hop, whose full rules and participants list you can view by clicking the above image. There are over 200 chances to win all sorts of prizes. Just comment on each participating blog with your e-mail for a chance to win:

1st Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet

2nd Grand Prize: A $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card

3rd Grand Prize: A Swag Pack that contains 10+ paperbacks, ebooks, 50+ bookmarks, cover flats, magnets, pens, coffee cozies, and more!

I’ve been embroidering and cross-stitching for probably close to 25 years now, so I’d like to offer a customized embroidered boomark as my prize. My winner can choose what design and colors s/he wants (doesn’t have to be fall-related).

My favorite part of Autumn is all the back-to-back holidays. I go to a student center (which I attended as a community member long before belatedly returning to school), and here are some of the reasons I love their Rosh Hashanah services:

I’m not charged any money and I’m generally guaranteed a good seat on the women’s side. I don’t feel squashed in a gigantic fishbowl, among hordes of people who only come for the High Holy Days. And no one shakes us down for money in some High Holy Days appeal speech or pushes donation forms on us.

Eating exotic fruits like starfruit, dragon fruit, durian fruit, lychee, and pomegranate. It’s a tradition on the second night to eat a fruit you haven’t eaten in the past year, so you can still say the Shechehiyanu blessing, thanking Hashem for granting you life and sustaining you till this day.

The Haftarah reading (selection from the Prophets) of the first day. It’s one of my favorite Bible stories, Chana (Hannah) praying from her soul for a child, and being rewarded with the Prophet Samuel. I got the first part of my Hebrew name from this story. I didn’t choose Chana as my leading name solely because it happens to be my legal name in Hebrew. And of course, someday I’m going to name my firstborn son Samuel after my namesake’s son.

Hearing the shofar being blown. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been so spiritually-attuned, but every year when I hear that haunting, mournful sound, it’s like I can feel the heavens literally opening up and judgment opening up.

U’Netanah Tokef, a haunting, pivotal prayer which is also part of the Yom Kippur liturgy. You’ve probably heard of the middle paragraph, “Who shall live and who shall die, who by fire and who by water….”

Going to a neighbor’s awesome backyard fish pond for tashlich, the symbolic casting-off of sins by throwing breadcrumbs (or in our case, fish food) into a natural body of water. He’s got koi and a couple of other types of fish in his pond, which is a labor of love.

Thrice a year, on the two days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Aleynu prayer falls in the middle of the Amidah (long standing middle prayer of the service) instead of at the end. During these three days, it’s a custom to bow all the way to the ground instead of just bending at the knees and waist and lowering the head. (The Muslims got the custom from us.) I seem to be the only one in the women’s section who does it, but I love Hashem so much, and the chance to be that close to him/her.

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Because I’m so spiritual, my favorite holiday is Yom Kippur. I just love the spiritual euphoria that comes with fasting, feeling so empty and pure, knowing you have enough self-discipline to not eat or drink anything for over 24 hours, not needing or wanting food or drink, just praying and thinking spiritual, important thoughts all day long. I also love Kol Nidre, the haunting prayer sung at night. And when the shofar is blown at the end of the Ne’ilah (closing) service, I feel the heavens closing up.

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Only days after Yom Kippur, Sukkot begins. It’s an 8-day festival (7 days in Eretz Yisrael) where you’re supposed to live in a booth, a temporary dwelling with schach (greenery) on the roof. Most people don’t actually live 24/7 in the sukkah, nor do most people sleep in it, but you’re commanded to at least sit and eat all your meals in it.

My rabbi and his family love Sukkot, and always have such wonderful meals during the four Yom Tov days of the holiday. On the first lunch, we have sushi and salmon, and on the second lunch, we have falafel. And for the dinners, we have hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. This year, we also had awesome kosher apple cider doughnuts for a lunch dessert.

Sukkot ends with a holiday called Hoshanah Rabah, the Great Hoshanah, and the day after that, it’s Shemini Atzeret, the 8th Day of Assembly. At my shul, we do a sort of sneak preview of the next night’s holiday of Simchat Torah at evening services, with abbreviated Hakafot (dancing circles with the Torah).

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Simchat Torah celebrates the end of the yearly cycle of Torah-reading, and immediately begins all over again. People dance in big circles with the Torah. Now that I’m pretty much Orthodox in all but name, I don’t really mind that at my shul, I can’t dance holding a Torah. Some Liberal Modern Orthodox shuls allow it, and eventually I’d like to find such a community.

Author:

I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

52 thoughts on “The Beauty of Autumn

  1. I am a beliver in the good of all faith and have had the joy of being included in a few of your fath’s fall holidays. I hope that we will continue to live in a coutry of respect for others and freedom of expression that allows the books to be published. This time of year I begin my holiday craft gift making with my children and work with disabled adults on making holiday ornaments. With an open mind and heart this is truely a blessed time of year.
    Kathewv@yahoo.com

    Like

  2. Autumn is my favorite season! I like all the beautiful colors outside and the weather is not that hot anymore but not freezing cold either. It’s just perfect! Thank you for the giveaway!

    verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

    Like

  3. I adore autumn because of the amazing colors, bundling up in sweaters, Halloween and my birthday! Autumn also means cuddling up with a good book and a cup of cocoa!

    grapeapril75(at)gmail(dot)com

    I love the hops cause of all the awesome new books I find to add to my to read list!

    Like

  4. It’s hard to say what exactly would be my Go-To Autumn Romance book. When I think real hard about it, I would have to say it has a sexy, strong, determined male that when it comes to love is just lost. Then there has to be a woman who is usually in need of help or needs to know what love and family is. Together they heal each other and love turns out to be their greatest gift. I also love a happy ending at this time of year, usually where the epilogue has them starting their own family to love and cherish. Oh….and definitely HOT loving too!

    Angelheart618@gmail.com

    Like

  5. They say you learn something new everyday, that was an informative but very interesting post..
    Thanks for sharing

    Beckey
    BeckeyWhiteATgmailDOTcom

    Like

  6. I love autumn with all the brilliant colors: oranges, yellows and reds of leaves. I love crisp, cool mornings where the sky is so blue it looks endless and the air is so fresh in your lungs. I love snuggling up in a warm throw on a cold autumn day with a good book. Of course, I love snuggling up with a good book about anytime of the year. I love Thanksgiving because it is a time to remember all the many blessings in my life and express thanks. I love baking spicy pumpkin pies with dollops of cream.

    The last book I finished was “Unravel Me” by Kendall Ryan. I liked it because the hot story line was so unexpected. I also love the steamy passion of the likes of Sylvia Day and Sylvain Reynard, but I hate mentioning favorite authors because the list is long. I appreciate the many styles authors use to weave stories of mystery, love, intrigue, preternatural and inspiration. I love reading because I can go anywhere, any time in my mind and imagine indescribable things.

    Gail djgandyfan@gmail.com

    Like

  7. My favorite thing about Autumn/Fall is the changing color of the leaves, orange, yellow, red, even purple. They are so pretty. My least favorite thing is raking up those pretty leaves. LOL I love to curl up by the fire and read a hot romance book on a cold fall evening. Thanks for being part of the hop and for the chance to win.
    reneebennett35 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    Like

  8. I love the fall because of the football games and tailgating! And of course having a campfire with roasted hotdogs! Thanks for a chance to win a great giveaway!

    kacidesigns AT yahoo DOT com

    Like

  9. Fabulous post. I love the cooler weather and cozy clothing during Autumn. I also love that during Autumn we begin to think of gratitude and others.

    kissyjensen at gmail dot com

    Like

  10. Absolutely beautiful. I love the way you embrace your faith and it embraces you right back. Your unmitigated joy in your experiences help us to see the beauty in your journey.
    planterofhope(at)aol(dot)com

    Like

  11. I dont know if I could go without drinking for 24 hours, eating I could handle. Great post, thx for the hop stop.

    blinkysthebest at aol dot com

    Like

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