Sometimes new beginnings take us by surprise. Most of us don't start over unless we have to. We don't like feeling like beginners. Feeling like a beginner can feel like being a child; it's a state we hope to grow out of as soon as we can. We want to become experts. We want to become blasé.
When Rosh Hashanah falls so early in the Gregorian calendar, it feels especially alarming. The truth is, it's always somewhat shocking to realize a whole year has passed. And ready or not, new beginnings happen. Rabbi Alan Lew z"l aptly titled his book on the Days of Awe, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared. The shofar call of Rosh Hashanah wakes us up. It reminds us that it is not only possible to begin again, but sometimes it is essential.
The long tekiyah blast is the the wake up call—pay attention! Rosh Hashanah is here. Yes, new beginnings make us feel vulnerable, but they also open us to the childlike wonder that comes from really noticing the things around us. And they are full of possibility.
The three broken blasts of shevarim call to mind all that is broken in our lives and in the world around us. Some of our relationships might be broken because we have fallen asleep in them, and we must awaken to be present and become connected again. Sometimes we close our eyes because the pain and suffering in the world around us is too much to bear. The broken cry of the shofar urges us to find real ways that we can engage in repairing the world and healing that suffering.
The nine staccato blasts of the truah remind us that change happens incrementally. We don't have to do everything at once. We can't. But once we are awake, once we are aware and connected to the people in our lives and the world around us, we can begin to take tiny steps forward. Each step is an embrace of the new beginning, however tentative at first. Each step is one change we can will ourselves to make. Each sound is a commitment we make to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our community, to the world.
May this season of beginnings be a time of renewal, possibility, and hope. And may this New Year be one of health, connection, joy, and transformation. L'shanah tovah tikateivu.
Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen
Director of The Center for Jewish Living
Days of Awe Cemetery Visit
Mon, Sep 9, 10:30 am-2:30 pm
It is customary to visit the graves of parents and other loved ones around the High Holidays, but many New Yorkers are unable to visit the cemetery easily.
Thanks to Riverside Memorial Chapel, we are pleased to offer you a comfortable bus ride to visit loved ones buried nearby, accompanied by Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, Director of the Center for Jewish Living. Join us for a light breakfast at 10:30 am before buses depart at 11 am. Registration permitting, we will have buses to the Queens, Farmingdale, and Paramus NJ cemeteries.
Pre-registration required; deadline is Tue, Sep 3.
In the spirit of the High Holidays, Israel Film Center STREAM is offering 20% off ten films about forgiveness from September 4-14:
For the discount, enter code NEWYEAR at checkout.
Please consider a gift to The JCC in Manhattan this New Year. Your contribution helps sustain our community and continue to enrich all of our lives. Please give now.
some fresh approaches to the 10 days of repentance
Rosh Hashanah: Shofar Callin' featuring Podezra Beats
Yom Kippur: Overboard (Jonah's Song) by the Josh Nelson Project
10Q: 10 Days. 10 Questions. by Reboot
Click here for a list of adult and children's services on the Upper West Side and elsewhere in the city.
Blessings for Rosh Hashanah
Wed, Sept 4: Light candles at 7:04 pm
Thu, Sep 5: Light candles at 8:02 pm
Blessings for Yom Kippur
Fri, Sep 13: Light candles at 7:50 pm
Sat, Sep 14: Fast ends at 8:50 pm