Shana Tova, and I hope that 5784 is already off to an incredible start.
Throughout the year, I schedule meetings with our local county and state elected officials to update them on the work our Jewish Federation is doing and learn how we can support and share what they are doing with our local Jewish community.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with State Assemblymember Mike Fong (CA-49). As I entered the meeting, I was greeted with a “Shana Tova” from Assemblymember Fong and his staff. I thanked them and took the opportunity to share that this is a powerful time for the Jewish community and that the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are significant and powerful. I continued by explaining that it is during this time that we reflect on how we were during this past year and whether we were the best us we could be. And that it was the time in which we asked for forgiveness to those we may have wronged. They thought this was amazing and how special this experience must be.
Although I didn’t share my perspective then, I thought I would here. In my opinion, these ten days of awe that we currently find ourselves in are the most important days of the year. The opportunity our tradition provides us to do everything we can to be written and sealed in the Book of Life for the year ahead is genuinely awesome (in the truest sense of the word). In essence, Judaism teaches about the power of apologies and performing teshuvah (repentance). The literal meaning of teshuvah is “to turn” - to turn from our ways, to turn from the actions we did before, and to commit to making things better.
As hard as it might be to say, “I’m sorry if I wronged you in any way this past year and I am commiting to do better in the year to come”, this meaningful act will strengthen your relationship with the people you say it to. Of course, to be on the receiving end of this request and being able to forgive may be even more challenging than saying sorry. But, through forgiveness, we can let go of our hard feelings towards family and friends and move into the year with a fresh start.
I encourage all of us to take some time before Sunday night, when Kol Nidre begins, to think about our past year and how we could have better lived up to not just our potential but also how we were as a spouse, sibling, son/daughter, grandchild, aunt/uncle, friend, co-worker, neighbor, etc. We owe it not only to them but also to ourselves.
G’mar chatima tova – May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year ahead.