Sunday, October 6, 2013

L'Shana Tova

I have to confess, in my family I am the most secular Jew. They might not know it, but it is how I feel. I do not actively seek out my Judaism on a regular basis, nor do I participate in being Jewish. We do not light the Shabbat candles every Friday night. We do not attend services. We are not members of a congregation or the JCC. I am Jewish, it is just part of me. Like saying I have brown hair. It is just factual information.

As I was sitting in temple last month for Rosh Hashanah services I was struck by the amount of community I am missing by not being more involved. I was sitting in services, by myself, when a couple sat down next to me. She introduced herself and started talking to me about the synagogue. She engaged me in her community. She could have left me alone, but she didn't. Then, the president spoke about how the synagogue as a community needs to be looking out for the new people and the people who are not yet involved in their community. And I felt like she was talking to me. She said L'Shana Tova means Happy New Year, and I knew that, we say it every year. Then she said that L'Shana comes from the same root as  L'Shanot, change. Let Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur serve as a moment of decisive change in your life. 

It resonated with me. 

It happened again at Kol Nidrei services. Kol Nidrei is a prayer for those who cannot pray. It is the community asking forgiveness for those who cannot ask for themselves. A different couple sat down next to me and we began to talk about the Rabbis and Cantors. A former student sat down with her family behind me and engaged me for fifteen minutes before the service and again afterwards. They asked if I was a member, and when I said I wasn't, they asked if I had enjoyed myself. No pressure to join. Just make sure you still get involved in the yearly programs. 

It resonated with me again. Like listening to the shofar sound. The universe is talking to me. I miss prayer. I miss being involved in the temple. I miss being an active participant in my Judaism.

And in the last month, I have thought about it a lot. And I have started looking into the Temple. I have started doing the research. I have started making plans for us and for our household. My hope for this New Year is that the "little" change Eliana has been (little in size, not the change) will continue until we can fill the void. Let me take these feelings seriously and act on them. Let me make changes that last. May this year be a Happy New Year and a Year filled with Happy Changes.

On a similar and different note. My goal this year is to forgive those who hurt me. I want to not take offense as quickly or as deeply. I want to learn how to let it go better and faster. There was a prayer in the Kol Nidrei service that really stuck with me - even now a month later.

Give us the grace to show forbearance to those who offend against us. When the wrongs and injustices of others wound us, may our hearts not despair of human good. May no trial, however severe, embitter our souls and destroy our trust. When beset by trouble and sorrow, our mothers and fathers put on the armor of faith and fortitude. May we too find strength to meet adversity with quiet courage and unshaken will. Help us to understand that injustice and hate will not forever afflict the human race; that righteousness and mercy with triumph in the end. 

There are people we live with, work with, are friends by association with, who drive us up the wall. In a high school, I work with bullies on a regular basis, whether student or adult. I am tired of it. I am looking for my armor of faith and fortitude as well as the quiet courage and unshaken will to stand up for what I believe is right. More importantly, I want to stop focusing on the wrongs done to me. I want to be able to focus on all the positive things that happen during the day. I want to change my focus. I want to focus on the change. 

No comments:

Post a Comment