Today is October 3rd - my 31st wedding anniversary on the English calendar. It's also the day before Yom Kippur, which starts tonight. So first, I'm going to write two blessings - one for today and one for tomorrow.
The first blessing is anniversaries - we need to remember that we love our spouse every day, celebrate it every day. Sometimes, we forget...and that's bad.
We met when I was 17. I had heard his name from my sister the year before I started university - the same university where she was going; the same university where he was starting his senior year. My sister wanted to arrange for us to meet but the meeting never took place and then she flew to Israel to spend her junior year abroad and I moved into the same building where she had lived.
For my first two days in the university and at the dorm, people mentioned my sister...when I wanted to be known for myself. I'd spent much of my life following in schools after my sister and I wanted a break; I wanted to be known for me.
Then, I walked into the building and saw this guy...and he said, "I'll be you're Leeanne's sister."
Wonderful...yes, I answered, and who are you? He told me his name and we started to talk...and talk...and talk.
Two months later, on my 18th birthday, a bunch of friends arranged for us all to go out and celebrate. Lazer said he wanted to go to...and then one by one, all my other friends backed out. I was embarrassed - but he wanted to go out - our first date.
Married - five kids, two grandchildren and, God willing, more on the way. A home, a business, friends and community. A land where we belong, where we live proud of who we are, where we are and who our children have become.
Thirty-one years is a huge accomplishment, an amazing commitment. We fight sometimes; we drive each other crazy. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, we drive ourselves right to the edge and then remember the most basic of truths - we love each other very much.
So today's blessing is anniversaries...and love.
Yom Kippur is a unique and amazing blessing that God has given to the Jewish people. It is solemn, inspiring, awesome, and frightening. It is a day that allows you to erase the wrongs, start over again.
It's a day of fasting, a day in which God judges us, what we did, what we didn't do. How we acted, how we didn't act.
It is called the Sabbath of Sabbaths - if all the year we tell the world to go away on Shabbat, on Yom Kippur we do this on an unprecedented level. The fast starts tonight - a little before 6:00 p.m. - long before that - in the coming hours, all public buses will stop, all stores will close. The radio stations will go silent; the televisions will broadcast nothing.
For 24 hours, the majority of Israelis will fast and observe this holiday - some more than others, some in different ways. It doesn't matter - what matters is that we will unite, as we do each year.
Yom Kippur is a blessing, no matter how much it seems like such a difficult day.
May you and your family be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year - for a sweet year, a year of health and happiness, security and safety. May it be a year of peace - in our country and across our borders. May our sons and daughters grow; may our parents be healthy.
May God grant us parnassa - livelihood - and may we live in honor and be honorable. May God frustrate the plans of our enemies...as He did this year by disclosing the tunnels; may He protect us - as He did this past year - as missiles landed in open fields.
G'mar hatima tova.