We live in a pluralistic community here in southeast Seattle. Even how we celebrate time varies.
According to the Gregorian (standard) calendar, the new year started on January 1, 2021. But the Ethiopian New Year starts Sept. 11and the year will be 2013. Islam just celebrated New Year the second week of August and it’s now 1443. Chinese Lunar New Year was in February and it’s 4719. The Hindi New Year of 2078 happened in April.
Some calendars are solar, or solar-lunar, while others are lunar based. You get the idea: Time is measured, explained, and observed differently around the world and, therefore, here in the South End, too.
One of the biggest privileges of being Jewish in moments like these, when the world feels like it’s caving in on itself, is that we get to ring in a new year in the middle of the fall. Yes, it marks a time of serious spiritual self-questioning and atonement, with hours-long services and liturgy replete with some stone-cold allusions to who will die and who gets to live another year. New Year’s Eve it is not.
But ultimately, we dress up our tables with fish heads (for a new start), pomegranates (filled with seeds that supposedly equal the number of mitzvoth, or good deeds, but don’t try to count them …), and apples dipped in honey (to bless our year with sweetness) and get to wave a fond farewell to 5,781, the current year of the Jewish lunar calendar.
Since it’s a time of reflection, I’m looking at the past to illuminate the future. And what I’m realizing on the eve of this time-bound holiday — which, quite strangely, falls on Labor Day this year — is that our clocks are broken. No, not our Fitbits, our internal clocks. Since 2019, our lives have been compressed into an unnatural pattern of bursts of change and excruciating stasis. We are, simply put, out of sync with the passage of time. On top of the grief and inequalities that compound on a daily basis, the compressed way in which we are forced to take in life’s IRL splendors — for those of us who are lucky to not be immunocompromised — is grinding us down. Numbing us. This is the season of quitting, haven’t you heard?
The Seattle Jewish Film Festival (SJFF) kicked off Thursday, March 4, featuring 19 films from around the world that celebrate Jewish and Israeli culture. Streaming online March 4 through March 18, the 26th SJFF focuses on themes of levity, laughter, and intercultural sharing, as well as complex topics that are sure to spark conversation. Including at least seven Zoom conversations with filmmakers and guests, as well as several culinary partnerships, this year’s festival is curated to inspire togetherness, even though it’s through a screen.
The Seattle Globalist was a daily online publication that covered the connections between local and global issues in Seattle. The Emerald is keeping alive its legacy of highlighting our city’s diverse voices by regularly publishing and re-publishing stories aligned with the Globalist’s mission.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the Seattle Globalist.)
“I know your grandmother’s real name.”
Those were the words of Denise Grollmus’ mother on her 28th birthday — the day she found out she was Jewish.
The Holocaust destroyed most of the Jewish population in Poland before 1945. Jews that survived did so by physically going into hiding or by renouncing their Jewish identity.
That’s what Grollmus’ grandmother did. In Nazi-controlled Poland, the family begun masquerading as Catholic to avoid persecution … and kept the charade going for generations.