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September 16, 2015

For most of the world, this week isn’t anything all that special. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff going on locally. My pal The Fuj is driving all over the place trying to drink all the great beer. It seems like he’s making a valiant effort too.

But if you happen to be Jewish, we’re in the Days of Awe. Maybe one of the rabbis who read the blog will want to weigh in today, but most likely they’re in the weeds this week. This is the busy season.

In between Rosh Hashanah (this past Monday) and the close of Yom Kippur (next Wednesday at sundown) I have to try and set right all the wrongdoings I’ve committed over the past year. And it’s not just the things I’ve done, but also the things that I could have done that went undone. Most of the time, this comes in the form of an apology.

Real apologies are hard. And I have a bad track record for failing to apologize. When friends have been in pain, I’ve failed to reach out to them in support. When important relationships have fallen off track, I’ve failed to take steps to repair them. These are big things. These are heavy things. And maybe this year will be the year that I set them right. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Speaking of going off track, let’s bring this back to food.

In preparation for our family’s Rosh Hashanah meal, I did what I do for pretty much every Jewish holiday. I went to Whole Foods.

Perhaps you remember that in the past I’ve had a pretty spotty track record of getting both my challah and rotisserie chicken from the store on any given Friday. But recently, the market’s track record has improved dramatically.

Of course, Rosh Hashanah, happened to be the exception.

To be fair, the Jewish new year is a good bit trickier than the other holidays. The challah takes on a completely different form. Instead of being a braided loaf, it’s a twisted round. And this is the one time a year that the Fussies would ever consider getting a challah with raisins baked into it. The dried fruit is supposed to remind us of wishes for a sweet new year.

Get it? Sweet raisins. Sweet year. That’s also why we may drizzle honey on our challah. It’s also why we dip apples in honey. Actually, the whole honey thing drives me crazy, because I hate being sticky. But that’s another post.

Whole Foods had plenty of challot leading into Rosh Hashanah. They just didn’t have any round ones with raisins. Seriously, nobody buys regular challah this week. I’m amazed that any of the bakeries even produce the braided loaves at this time of year.

The kids were more crestfallen than I was. But I suggested that perhaps we ask, and maybe there would be some more loaves in the back. Now, the fellow at the bakery counter had heard our conversation, and promptly came over to let us know that indeed he was all out of round challah with raisins.

Then he apologized.

Frankly, it was a bit unexpected. Not the lack of challot, but rather the apology. I wasn’t looking for an apology. I hadn’t been planning on making a scene. But the sincerity of his words was really meaningful to me, and changed my stance from being deeply grumpy to mildly disappointed.

Of course it helped that we found a super soft traditional challah for our holiday table. And the kids were troopers. However, I think there is a customer service lesson here that doubless many in the service industry know.

The big difference here was that it didn’t come off as flip or routine.

Think about answering machine messages, “I’m sorry I can’t come to the phone right now.” Most utterances of the word “sorry” ring hollow. So much so, that I sometimes feel like apologies are pointless. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been so bad at apologizing in the past. And perhaps that’s why the impact and the power of a sincere and unexpected apology, without any excuses, really made a lasting impression on me.

This is strange to say, but maybe I had to be deprived of my challah to learn a larger lesson.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    September 16, 2015 10:05 am

    Trader Joe’s had lots of round challahs with or without raisins. I assume they’ll have them at least through Yom Kippur. What never fails to make me laugh is when stores put out challahs on the Friday during Passover.

    • September 16, 2015 10:12 am

      I’ve never been a fan of the challah they sell at Trader Joe’s. It looks nice, but I’ve never found one that thrilled me.

      For me, I always get a chuckle out of Yom Kippur catering menus. Yeah, I get that it’s about the meal to break the fast, but still.

  2. September 16, 2015 2:33 pm

    Putting things right, sincerely apologizing…these things are not easy for most of us, which is part of why we wander around with unspecified anxiety and tight shoulders. Our *intention* to forgive, to ask for forgiveness and to make amends is truly important. Starting with a sincere intention can go a long way. With some work and tolerance for awkwardness maybe we can learn how to forgive and be kind and live together in more friendly and loving ways. Best wishes and may you enjoy a sweet New Year.

  3. September 16, 2015 3:49 pm

    I am

  4. September 16, 2015 3:52 pm

    I am sorry you did not write about the Hudson Valley Winefest as you mentioned yesterday. I went, and was sorry I did not get more out of it and looking forward to your review.

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