7 Sept 2013
Rosh Hashanah is the name of the Jewish New Year. (The phrase literally means “the head of the year.”) Unlike the New Year celebrated in January, the Jewish New Year is celebrated in September. Traditionally, those celebrating Rosh Hashanah eat apples dipped in honey in hopes of having many sweet things happen in the next year.
The midwives here celebrated Rosh Hashanah a few days late, but we celebrated it! Eugenia brought apples from Gulu. I was very blessed to bring the honey. It happened like this …
I was taking a transport back from Gulu to Atiak. The driver stopped in Atiak center to drop off some of the passengers. (My stop was the next one, a few kilometers up the road, at the huge tree that welcomes me to the short road that goes down to the birth center.) Several people got out, and naturally we were offered all kinds of good things to eat by the sellers on the side of the road: peanuts, cassava … and honey.
A man who spoke English was outside trying to haggle with the honey-seller. He wanted a bottle for five thousand shillings, but it was seven. I told him that the honey was very good – I’ve had it many times myself – but he would never get it for five. It is always sold for seven. (I had actually discussed with Christine whether we could get it for five a few days before, and she’d said no!). The man had thirteen thousand with him, so he said I should add one thousand so that we could buy two bottles. I don’t know why, but I just opened my wallet and gave it to him. And when I did, he gave me the second bottle, the whole thing!
It was a very fortunate gift because it enabled all of us to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in at least part of the traditional way. I was the one who cut up the apples, poured the honey, and called everyone together to the table. Rosie, our Israeli midwife, and Eugenia explained the holiday. Then I sang a song in Hebrew:
Hinei ma-tov umanahim
shevet achim gam ya-chad!
(How good and pleasant it is
for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity.)
I felt so happy that night.