Tonight begins the new Jewish year of 5769. For centuries Jews have enjoyed playing games with letters and numbers. Rosh Hashanah literally means the "head of the year." When you rearrange the Hebrew letters, they form the words Aleph b'Tishrei -- the first of the month of Tishrei, and the start of a new year.
This is the first holiday we will celebrate without my father, who died in June. I have had most holidays out here on my own and with Rik for many years, and have not been able to join in family celebrations, so it's not perhaps as strange for me as it will be for my mother and sister. I did miss Dad a lot when I learned that there were no kosher chicken livers in the grocery stores and so I couldn't make his chopped liver recipe. My sister told me that she said she would take my mother to the cemetery between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, an old Jewish tradition that I wish I could participate in too. Instead I continue to attend daily minyan as often as possible in order to say kaddish.
In this coming new year, may we all be written in the book of life for health and happiness, peace and tranquility. A shana tova, a sweet new year, to all.