I told Stephanie that I would write a blog post about Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. The holiday starts at sunset on Sunday. My sister is coming in town for it and it also happens to be the actual date of my parents’ 50th anniversary.
I always have a hard time when I “have” to write a blog post about a particular topic. Blog topics usually come to me in the middle of the night, while I’m stuck in traffic or any number of other opportunities when the computer isn’t handy. So here I am, fingers on the keyboard, trying to figure out what to tell you about this time of year – one of the most significant for the Jewish people.
You can do plenty of research online to find the meaning of the holidays. During these Days of Awe, concluding with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) the Jewish people embark upon the task of taking a look at our lives and repenting for any wrongdoings from the past year. We are encouraged to make amends in our community and to make plans for improving during the coming year. This time is about making peace in the community (and ultimately the world) and striving to be a better person.
My Rabbi, Stephen Kahn, said something during last year’s sermon that still resonates with me. He was talking about the importance of community and the impact that people within that community can have. I am going to paraphrase a bit, but the intent is there:
- There is a depth of the complexities, the struggles and even the “messiness” of attempting to achieve a whole community ….as a community we face hard choices of mind, spirit and courage.
- … “community” cannot be understood in the abstract. It most certainly cannot be defined by any one person or institution regardless of their intentions.
- Community is hard work! Achieving a whole community requires understanding where the “land mines” lie and how to maneuver through them.
- Community requires painful dialogue, sacrifice and fundamental understanding that our institutions have conflicting truths …..
- Mostly, we cannot afford to sit back and watch and wait for others to do the work. …It’s time for everyone to roll up their sleeves, wipe off the dust of the seismic shifts and get to work.
He is right, community is hard work. But anyone that actively participates in a community, be it faith-based, career-based, or other, knows the impact of that participation. So in the spirit of the New Year, whether you observe or not, let’s all do what we can to improve our community, help those that are in need, and contribute our time and treasures where we can.
L’Shana Tova – Happy New Year.