The Birthday of the World

An American Jew’s experience of the Jewish holidays is inextricably linked to the American calendar, to regional weather patterns and to the distinct geographies of his or her surroundings. It’s hard for me to imagine the period of Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot without thinking of the onset of autumn, of leaves that are beginning to change colors, cool evenings and fall harvest vegetables. The fall carries with it its own rich poetic symbolism – a yellow leaf can signify the fall from Eden, decisions that can’t be undone, or the flourishing of love in face of the inevitability of death. So what does this all have to do with the Jewish New Year? Not much if you live in a climate where autumn is not as pronounced. Yet for an American Jewish writer like Emma Lazarus, the grandeur of the the Jewish New Year is inextricably linked to its seasonal setting:

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