Birthdays and Beginings

By Ariella Zirkland

See glossary at bottom of page.

I was born on Alef Tishrei. The first day of the first month of the Jewish year. 


On Alef Tishrei, Judaism teaches us that man was created, the Imahot each gave birth, the physical labor of our slavery ended in Egypt, and it is said that Moshiach will arrive on this day as well. On Alef Tishrei our judgements are written, left unsealed until Yom Kippur. It is a time of avodah; true spiritual work. A time mixed with angst and joy, the discomfort of realizing we need to grow and the gift of being given the time to change. 


I showed up on this intricate day with it’s rich history of miracles and prayer. Not the first of any creation, neither matriarch nor messiah. Not above judgment or angst, not without discomfort or determination. Just a person. This year, this person is turning thirty. 


Thirty. It’s a thing. One of those big numbers that people get excited about. But placed in the context of my last twenty-nine birthdays it feels more than familiar. When have I not spent my birthday in deep reflection and repentance? When have I not given out brachot, said to be more powerful on your birthday, as if our lives depended on it? I’ve been turning thirty for my entire life. 


I can’t say I’m entirely unshaken. Standing at the precipice of what is apparently a ‘big deal’, I am judging myself differently. Accomplishments are recut with the facets of time, and I wonder what I should have approached both more slowly and more quickly. I am also, to be honest, lamenting that I don’t own any cashmere. Just a person. 


This year we will start again on Alef Tishrei. Man will still be learning how to live best in this world. Mothers will still be praying for long awaited children. Our ears will all strain through the final shofar of Yom Kippur, hoping to hear the sound of geulah blending with it. I’ll show up too, mumbling blessings in a poly-blend sweater. Hoping I get to be part of one more miracle on this auspicious day that welcomed me, just the person that I am. 



Alef Tishrei - the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei on which Rosh Hashanah is celebrated

Imahot- the biblical matriarchs


Yom Kippur- Day of Atonement

Avodah- work. Avodat HaShem is used to describe the efforts (both spiritual and physical) involved in serving Gd through Torah observance. 


Shofar- horn that is blown on the High Holidays

Geulah- redemption 

To read more by Ariella, click on the link here.