It is nearly a week since the conclusion of our observance of the Jewish new year– Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The year 5773 in the Jewish calendar. In the bigger world there is a great deal going on– both terrible and hopeful; and there is much to reflect upon at this time of year, and much to grab hold of and make right in the year to come. We who believe, as I do, in tikkun olam, the Jewish concept and commandment of “repair of the world” have plenty of opportunities to fulfill that mitzvah, that commandment.
I love this time of year and I love the Jewish new year for many reasons. Perhaps because we are called upon to look at the world and at our own lives in all our messes and failings and at the same time to hold in our minds and hearts the complete beauty and goodness– of ourselves and of humanity and of the world. I like this kind of perspective. It is a big perspective and a demanding perspective, and I like that.
Among other things, it is not easy to carve out time to be a Jew if you live, as I do, in a secular world. In my current job, and in my daughter’s middle school– it was far more demanding (the work of carving out the time and space to observe the Jewish new year) than I can ever recall it being before– and it rattled me and angered me too. On Tuesday before Yom Kippur I started the day by writing eight separate notes to teachers and staff at my daughter’s school, so that my daughter wouldn’t get graded down, marked with unexcused absences etc.– because my failure to do so for Rosh Hashanah had created a mess that required a number of calls and emails to clean up. At work several things happened and I was running at top speed from 9:00 a.m. until I finally made my way out at 7:00 p.m. — after an exchange with my boss that I truly experienced as a miracle.
I left my work with barely enough time to change clothes and no time to eat a good meal which would be followed by a fast for the next 24 hours. I found my cell phone was broken and had trouble getting through to my family to say, “meet me downstairs with a change of clothes and we’ll go straight to synagogue.” It was a hard and bumpy observance in some ways because I was off my feet–exhausted, stressed out and late– but we made our way to our synagogue three times for Yom Kippur and I took in the beauty of an early fall day, of my community of Jews, of my daughter and partner. There was time to think and sing and grieve losses too.
I am late in writing this post, and I am late with other things too– but there is a new year ahead and I will find time to do things I want to do and to write. There is much more to write but right this moment, it is time–in this new year– for me to meet one of my biggest daily challenges, rest at the end of the day. Shanah Tovah– a good year. And good night for now.