Shana Tova 5780

September 27, 2019 in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris

This week is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. I share this article from the Times of Israel as Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday night.

Let me also add that the entire clergy team and staff wish you a meaningful holiday season.  We hope you will join us not only in services but in many other events too.  Our synagogue is a vibrant community with numerous access points so we want to help you find yours.

Come to Tashlich on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (4pm at the stream behind the Sunrise Senior Living building on Battery Lane), the Yom Kippur meditation (2pm at Beth El) or the afternoon Yom Kippur seminar titled “An Interfaith Discussion on Forgiveness” at 3:30 at both locations. (More on that in next week’s blog.)  You can join us for Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Shabbat and / or other experiences throughout this beautiful season.

This is about the machzor and so much more.  As our blogger writes, “And may this year, and the years that follow, offer you manifold opportunities to express gratitude, whether out of joy or struggle.” Take a step deeper into your Beth El community to strengthen the bonds and friendships around you.

Shana Tova U’metuka


A Season Of Renewal And A Space For Gratitude

As Rosh HaShanah approaches, New Normal contributor Nina Mogilnik pauses to share her prayer.

September 24, 2019, 7:36 am

For as long as I can remember, I have found the Yamim Noraim challenging. It wasn’t just the long days of prayer and repentance that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur require; it was all the other surrounding stuff. It was the complicated family dynamics, my mother’s “iffy” cooking, and so on. After my father, z’l, passed away, the holidays felt incredibly sad to me. My father was the essential element that is now forever missing. I no longer feel his hands on my head, blessing me for a new year, and that absence has been crushing. Time, the supposed healer of all wounds, hasn’t healed that.

Then there’s the flip side of missing my father. And that is all that my father has missed. He hasn’t had the chance to treasure the magnificence of spirit and heart that is his grandchildren. He hasn’t seen how they’ve grown up to become so much like him, so full of his bone-deep decency and goodness. Even Noah, our autistic son, will say that he’s like Papa Jack because of his beard. (There’s also his underbite, his silly use of language, and his going through the world as a pure soul, no matter the craziness, or worse, around him.)

For all the loss and longing of the holiday season, there is also this: the chance to acknowledge and express gratitude. For me, that has come into sharper relief lately, as life has become more challenging, more fraught, more uncertain. While I have always tried to be mindful of expressing gratitude, circumstances lately have made that feel like an urgent imperative. And so here, on the eve of the holiest days of the Jewish year, I want to offer my version of a prayer. If it speaks to you, use it, pay it forward in your own way. And may this year, and the years that follow, offer you manifold opportunities to express gratitude, whether out of joy or struggle.

It’s not always the case that those who have suffered or struggled in life are able to express empathy toward others who suffer or struggle. But I have found, to my great consolation, that I have in my life a small sisterhood of friends whose journeys as women, as parents, as spouses have been at times incredibly fraught and painful. Our ability to share our hurts with one another, to support one another, to be the person who calls or gets called in a moment of crisis, is a gift we give to one another that is more precious than the tallest mountain of gold could ever be. #gratitude does not begin to capture what it means to have others in your life who hold your heart in their hands, who walk with you, even from a distance, who carve out time in their own busy lives to listen, to share, to let you know that your pain is theirs too in that moment, and that when your moment passes and they have their moment, that you will come full circle back to them. This is so much more than friendship. It’s deeper and higher and more profound. It is a gift that in my worst moments, I can lose sight of. But when I open my eyes and find that it’s there, the ground under me stops shaking, and I can breathe.

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