Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Birthdays in the Jewish World

If you're an American like me, you're used to birthdays being A Big Deal.

But...they're really not a big deal in the Jewish world. But on the flip side, you'll now have a lot of them! Let us count them:
  • Your English day of birth
  • Your Hebrew day of birth
  • The English date of your conversion(s)
  • The Hebrew date of your conversion(s)
  • Half-birthdays of any of the above

You can choose to celebrate any, all, or none of these days however you wish. Personally, I have six possible birthdays, and I celebrate none of them if I'm being honest. But I don't celebrate much of anything. I'm not a "holiday" person. After all these years, I still feel most comfortable and most connected to the English calendar, so that's what I generally use. Each person comes to a different conclusion, and that can change over time. (Apparently I used to be much more energetic about birthdays. Maybe I'm just getting old and

As a former rabbi of mine once said when I asked what Judaism said I should do for my birthday: "Go buy a lottery ticket." (How's that for one of those throw-away comments you never realize someone will remember 15 years later? Also, if you happen to come across, are we really this old?)

Some people give brachot to others, in the idea that we have a special connection to spiritual energies on our birthdays. That's not my thing, and I don't really understand it. But it's very common practice to hand out brachas or ask if people in your social media feed need a bracha for something. I'm all for more brachas in the world and more supporting each other.

In that vein, today happens to be one of my Hebrew birthdays. May you all find what you're looking for and may it be good for you. May we all have a year of health, happiness, community, connection, personal growth, professional fulfillment, parnassah, and nachas from our friends and family. And let us say...amen.


So there you have it. Go buy a lottery ticket. And get yourself a cookie. You deserve it. Give someone or your entire social media feed a bracha if you like.

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