Each year, I welcome the cool fall air as a relief from the hot summer, and a reminder that Rosh Hashanah will soon be here. I find myself reminiscing about the holidays from my childhood, characterized by time spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and a large pot of chicken soup steaming on the stove, my knuckles scraped up from grating potatoes for kugel. My memories are still vivid and I can almost see everyone gathered around the table, sharing laughs and honey cake, and looking forward to a sweet new year.

Now, married with children, this time of year has become even more special. My own kitchen has replaced Grandma's (even though she lends me moral support over the phone as I cook), and a state-of-the-art food processor saves my knuckles from further discomfort. But even though some things have changed, that same, warm feeling brews inside me when I prepare for the New Year festivities.

I began preparing my own holidays a few years ago, when my Grandmother became legally blind. Up until that time, Grandma always made sure that my family celebrated the holidays together and kept our traditions. Our yearly gatherings were quite secular, but Grandma managed to tell Bible stories and anecdotes from her childhood that seemed to keep a small spark of Judaism alive within our glasses of Manischewitz and plates of pot roast. It took me a long time to realize how important what Grandma did was, and what she sacrificed over the years to buy the food, make the meals, and bring us all together as family and as Jews. For that, I am forever grateful.

This year has been the most meaningful to me as a Jewish woman because the coming of the High Holy Days marks one full year since I decided to explore and immerse myself in Judaism. I actually started this journey as an experiment to allow myself to delve into facets of Judaism that always seemed to make me uncomfortable, for fear of the unknown. I figured that if I called it an "experiment," then it wouldn't be too bad if I quit, or just didn't like it. My plan was to take some classes, attend some services, and then write about my experience. I must admit that I was very naïve, because I had no idea what was about to happen. Then, again, that is the beauty of G‑d.

I began by trolling the Internet and becoming familiar with all of the Jewish houses of worship within a twenty-five mile radius of my house. I live in suburban Pennsylvania, so there weren't many, but those that I found ran the gamut from Orthodox to Reform. I looked on websites and made phone calls, but I couldn't find the type of learning that interested me . I wanted to learn the "whys," not the "whats." I already knew a fair amount of the laws and I was looking for something with more of a spiritual connection. When I was about to give up, convinced that what I was looking for was nowhere to be found, I took my daughter to a random play-date and met another mom. She was Jewish! I was flabbergasted, and as we spoke, I learned that we had a lot in common. We quickly became friends and shortly after she mentioned that she learned with a religious woman on a weekly basis and invited me to come along. I excitedly accepted her invitation and that is how I truly began my journey, and my relationship with G‑d and Judaism.

Of course, this is the abridged version of my story. Yet, I would have been remiss not to mention what a wonderful year it has been. I have finally found a religious comfort zone for myself and a place to settle in, learn, and grow. I have also been fortunate to make many new friends with whom I – G‑d willing – will share this, and many future new years. My husband and I also welcomed our second child this year and are happy and proud to have found a Jewish community where we feel so accepted.

I tend to joke around with family and friends, stating how ironic it is that I grew up in Brooklyn and not until I moved to Pennsylvania did I find the Jewish life I was looking for. However, what's even more astounding is what can happen once you decide to let things happen.

So, as I plan out my Rosh Hashanah menu with apples and honey topping the list, I can't help but look at the bigger picture. It all starts here and ends here and then starts again, the way G‑d intended. For me, it started with Grandma and her Rosh Hashanah dinners and it ends here this year as I celebrate Rosh Hashanah in my own home. After the prayers, meals, and family, we'll all wake up to the dawn of a new year with new opportunity to take a look at our lives and see how we may become better children, better parents, and better people. It's not an ending, but rather, a beginning that I give thanks for each day as I move forward and get acquainted with that Jewish woman who is me.