As we begin to prepare for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, consider what these High Holidays mean to you.
Are they a time to focus on the present, and to take the time to connect with family and friends? Perhaps the High Holidays are an opportunity to reach out to our local community, attend services, and connect with our extraordinary Jewish liturgy and music. Or perhaps, they offer an opportunity to pause and remember; to recall the formative moments of our childhood: the stickiness of honey dripping between your fingers, the sweetness of a freshly baked raisin challah, and the warmth of feeling connected to the people we love.
For me, the High Holidays are my favorite time of year to connect with my faith, spend time with family, and take the time to reach out and fully engage in our wonderful local community. It is such a joy to see people that I don’t always see during the year, and to pause and reconnect with Judaism.
Each year, the Jewish Federation sends a letter to our local school district Superintendents in which we inform them about the dates of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and remind them that no student can be penalized in any way, according to the California Education Code, if they miss school in observation of these Jewish holidays. We work on your behalf to ensure that all of our kids have the opportunity to celebrate with us and we are proud to be your advocate in our local community.
One of the most wonderful parts of the High Holidays in our San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys is the opportunity to reconnect with our wonderful local organizations. I always come away from High Holiday services with a new energy to participate in more of the wonderful learning opportunities and programs that are available, to engage Jewishly about issues that are of importance to our time, and to connect with more of the incredible and inspiring people that are our neighbors and partners in building our local community.
As we head into the Yamim Noraim, the 10 Days of Awe, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I encourage each of us to explore beyond what we already know and commit to trying something new in our Jewish community. Between now and next year’s High Holidays, consider attending an adult education program at a local synagogue, a Jewish Federation Jewish Book Festival event, or something else that is of meaning to you. Take some time to explore our local Jewish community, meet the people in it, and open up to the possibility of connecting and learning something new.
On behalf of the Jewish Federation’s Board of Governors and Staff we wish you a Gmar Chatimah Tovah - may each of you be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year of good health and happiness. Shana Tova!