Photo Credit: My Jewish Learning
Yes, this September is the new year for our Jewish clients. Every year this time we are requested to finish work before the start of Rosh Hashanah or are at least told that a 2-day hiatus will be taken from all activity. I have always loved a tradition that stops the regular week and honors the sacred. The High Holidays as they are referred to, have agrarian roots. Fall ceremonies celebrate abundance and a gathering together of the fruits of our labor.
Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement” follows Rosh Hashanah and the days between, (the “Days of Awe”) are an invitation to reflect on the year that has just ended, what went right, or wrong, and an opportunity to make amends. Fasting and praying, apologizing to family and friends for mistakes, and promising to improve, are all part of these rituals of reflection and renewal. In college I worked for Rabbi Fred Krinsky and his wife Lyn in their home and so I connected deeply with the Judaic traditions. I grew to love the way that Judaism honored and celebrated our humanity and provided pathways for recommitting and bettering oneself and one’s connection to community and family.
Our Jewish clients remind us how important it is to take time out of our rush-rush lives for connection and I appreciate the reminder. Rabbi Krinsky was diabetic and a double amputee. Despite those physical challenges, he was a true champion for his community. He was instrumental in the Reform Jewish movement in Southern California, founding several temples and was head of the Political Science department at Pomona College. Lyn was the temple choir director, and I played flute for her choir on High Holidays. We joked that I was Jewish by association.
I loved the community that their temple brought together, how people connected with and took care of each other. I was raised Catholic. My family’s Catholicism (Roman/Latin Mass) was the kind that was canceled out by Vatican II. We were never part of a local diocese because my mother felt they didn’t mirror our values. So, I missed out on a church community growing up.
I most appreciated the way the Reform Jewish culture regarded children. In my upbringing, children were seen and not heard. During Passover Seders and other events, the way that history and stories gave meaning and defined culture, and the fact that kids had an active role in all of the discussions, left a strong impression on me
At this time of year, I am reminded that no matter what our faith, we can take time out to honor the sacred. We can invite our children to express their views. And we can reap the harvest of our participation in community, which is as nourishing for the heart as food is for the body.