Feast, Feast, Feast, Fast – the High Holidays Again

Whew!  Three days of praying, sleeping, and eating.  Tomorrow is a fast day, Tzom Gedaliah.  The fast commemorates the assassination of Gedaliah Ben Achikam, the governor of the Jews during the reign of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar.  His murder was on the 3rd of the month of Tishrei 582 BC, the day after Rosh Hashanah.

Therefore, the fast day typically falls the day after Rosh Hashanh, but it was delayed this year because we do not fast on Shabbat.

After the murder of Gedaliah, the people, “both small and great,” fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 40-42), marking the end of Judean autonomy and the slaughter of many thousands of Jews, while those who remained were driven at last into exile..  A fast was instituted “to teach us that the death of a righteous man (tzadik) is like the burning of the house of God” (Rosh Hashana 18:2).

Next Saturday, Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat, and we fast again.  All this means that I have two weeks without a real weekend, because Friday and Saturday have been eaten up (no pun intended) by holidays.  But at least none of it counts as vacation time.

There is nothing like 5571. Happy new year!

This Rosh Hashanah I stayed at home and prayed in a round synagogue that kind of looks like an igloo in the East Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem.  To get there, I had a very scenic walk by the promenade and park overlooking the old city and the eastern part of Jerusalem.  The members of the congregation are a very international group.  I heard Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, and English, at least.

The interim period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur marks the beginning of this blog, one year ago!

So, as I take an accounting of the past year, and isn’t it interesting by the way that we start off the new year by repenting for sins from the previous year?, I’d like to think about what I set out to do with this blog, and what I have accomplished.

  1. Keep writing!  Not knowing what the future would have in store for me professionally, I wasn’t sure how much writing I would be doing.  This helps me process what is going on and keeps merefining (somewhat) my craft. – Done (well, at least when I was good about posting regularly)
  2. Keep up with the divrei Torah that I would occasionally share about what I learned in seminary, and by having a commitment to regularly sharing, it would ensure that I would be regularly learning something and trying to process it in order to give it over to others – I’d give myself a B- here. I was much better at the beginning of the year about doing this.  Later, the blog moved more towards personal thoughts and observations.
  3. Learn the WordPress blog publishing software. Done – and I think I’d like to move to the self-hosted WordPress.org in the upcoming year, both in order to move to my own domain (though you are redirected here from http://www.ilenerosenblum.com/blog), and in order to play around with the versatility and plugins that self-hosting allows.  It no longer intimidates me as much as it did at first.

Update September 13

Silly me! Two other cool accomplishments of this blog(ger) in 5770 and what to look out for in 5771:

  1. Guest post in the Washington Post-Newsweek blog On Faith that planted the seed for this blog while I was on the fence about if I wanted to go on the record about some of my thoughts about religion, Israel, and other such controversial topics.
  2. Was recruited for guest posting on the blogs You, Me & Religion, a Q&A blog of interviews with people of different faiths (or with a lack thereof) and Beyond BT, a blog for newly observant Jews.

I should also point out that over the last year, as part of my professional training, I have done a lot of research and reading about what makes blogs popular, how to help people find a blog and raise its search rankings.  But all of that “science” gets in the way of what I want to do here!  I wrote what I wanted to write, even if the keyword placement wasn’t right for SEO optimization.


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    Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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