ROSH A HOMA by Peter Nolan Smith

Last year I sat in Frank’s Lounge with Vince. The owner’s nephew and I were discussing a teaching position as a creative writer. The offer sounded good and the Fort Greene native said, “Hell, I have a four day weekend thanks to Rush a homa.”

“You mean Rosh Hashanah?” My boss from the Diamond District also called the Jewish holiday ‘rush a homa’.

“Yeah, and I bet no one in this bar know what the holiday is? It’s not like I have an extra holiday for Martin Luther King Day.” The school administrator was right. Frank’s Lounge was a black bar. I was the only token white boy in the place. It was a quiet night for a Friday.

“It’s the Jewish Day of Awe, celebrating y’shim creation of Adam and Eve.” I knew the High Holy Days from working twenty-odd years on 47th Street. “It’s also the Day of Judgment and Jews have ten days until Yom Kippur to repent for their sins. Of course I don’t believe in that shit, because I’m an atheist.”

“Atheist?” Vince rocked on his stool with laughter. “I’m always amused by you atheists. None of you believe in God until you need him.”

“Not true.” I stopped praying to God years ago.

“You ever hear about this atheist rowing at the lake, when suddenly the Loch Ness monster attacked and grabbed him from his boat. He panicked and shouted “God help me!”, and suddenly, the monster and everything around him just stopped.

A voice from the heavens boomed “You say you don’t believe in me, but now you are asking for my help?”

The atheist looked up and said, “Well, ten seconds ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster either!”

Several of the nearest drinkers chortled at this joke.

“This isn’t about atheists. This is about Rosh Hashanah and the sins of the world.”

“Well, here’s to Rosh Hashanah. I got two days off with pay and my next beer is to Yom Kippur. I love a holiday to fish.” Vince ordered me a beer too. I was glad for his hospitality. My money was down to $10. I may have sins, but too many to count on a Sunday night.

Shana Tova everyone.

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