It was a pleasant Friday evening. Hubby, sometimes helping out as an advance man for Rabbi Uri Regev of Hiddush, had gotten to the Temple in Newport Beach early so he could set up materials. There was quiet time sitting in the sanctuary waiting for people to arrive. At 5:30 there was wine and cheese, followed by a lively and punctual service starting promptly at 6 p.m. and ending at 7 p.m. Rabbi Regev spoke briefly. There was the traditional Oneg, or reception, after the service, along with, for that night, a congregational dinner in another room where Rabbi Regev would speak at some length.
Dinner was either chicken pieces roasted in marvelous spices, or vegan. Since I’m Catholic, and it was Lent, in which I don’t eat meat on Friday, I opted for the vegan. Table conversation was lively with 3 Rabbis and 1 Cantor, 3 Israelis, an Australian, and a couple of us mere mortals. At the end of the evening one of the Rabbi’s was saying goodnight and asked me what the appropriate greeting was for Lent. I hope I didn’t look too dumb, although I quickly recovered. You see, in Judaism, there are traditional greetings for the Sabbath and many holidays. On Friday nights people greet each other with “Shabbat Shalom” (Sabbath Peace, in Hebrew) or Gut Shabbos (Good Sabbath, in Yiddish). For Rosh Hashanah, New Years, the greeting is L’Shanah Tovah, and there are other general holiday greetings.
Lent. Rabbi quickly followed up with a question, “Would you wish someone a Happy Lent?.” By then I had recovered enough to say that Lent is a period of preparation, good works, and reflection, so “happy” wouldn’t work. He was thoughtful for a bit and then said, “Well then, have a meaningful Lent.” Yes, that would work. Meaningful. Soul searching. Taking from ourselves by good works so that in another way we might become more.
It is almost Easter now and a bit late, but for those of you who observe Lent, I hope it was meaningful.
Every Day Is A Good Day. VJ