Sunday, October 9, 2016
At sunset last Sunday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began. This Tuesday evening Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins. Unlike the secular New Year in January with parties and balloons, the Jewish New Year is a time of reunion, reflection, repentance and remembrance.
Families reunite to celebrate the coming year, always sharing apples and honey to symbolize a sweet year. I always spend one of the High Holidays with my sister and her family in Atlanta and this year it was the New Year. This will be an important milestone year in her family when three of her grandchildren celebrate their Bar Mitzvahs, their entry into adulthood with their first time to read from the Torah. My sister's family belongs to a small congregation in suburban Atlanta. During the Rosh Hashanah service, the ram's horn, the Shofar, is blown. With a sound like no other, it calls us together as a people. This year a dozen or so young men stood before the congregation and blew their Shofars all together. It was a lovely service.
Reflection is part of the change of years, of seasons. Who am I? What is my goal, my purpose? What can I do in the coming year to be a better, more ethical, more generous person? Even though we look forward to the next 365 days, there is something about autumn that invites reflection. The falling leaves and the shorter days remind us that life is fleeting and that each of us should live the best life we can.
Repentance is the theme of Yom Kippur, the day in which we communally confess our sins and ask forgiveness, not just from God but from people we have offended, hurt or overlooked during the past 12 months. Hardest of all, I think, is to forgive ourselves, but we should try.
Remembrance is another Yom Kippur theme. During the holidays we recall those who are no longer with us and, we have a special service called Yizkor to remember loved ones who were part of our lives. This week's quote will be my favorite Remembrance poem.
Posted by thelmaz at 3:35 PM