On Rosh Hashanah, we have a strong tradition to embrace and celebrate newness. In my own home, the rush to get new clothes and haircuts has been a focus of this past week, along with all of the other things you might imagine a rabbi doing to get ready for the High Holidays. Around our holiday tables, many of us will eat a new fruit - adding a new experience to mark the new year.
These new things we do in honor of Rosh Hashanah are a special part of our celebrations. And even though they are incredibly embodied and evocative experiences, they are in some ways also external to our deepest selves. A new outfit or new food can give expression to or even spark a real change in who we are, but they are more likely to be things we simply do for this occasion and this occasion only. The novelty wears off. The new outfit winds up in the hamper, the haircut grows out, the new fruit becomes a part of the regular menu rotation.
In preparation for Rosh Hashanah, we strive to find a different kind of newness - not newness in what we wear or eat, but newness in who we are. We aim to try out new and different ways to be with each other, and with ourselves. We work to improve, to grow, to deepen our relationships.
This process is one best done together. While each of us must do our own individual work to find the newness within ourselves, the power of doing so in community with each other keeps us accountable and brings us inspiration.
With that in mind, I have a crowdsourcing request:
Please share with me the ways you're working to find new dimensions of yourselves this coming year. Are there new experiences you're looking forward to? New skills you're planning to develop? New challenges to contend with? New relationships to nurture? New areas of growth you're tending to?
On erev Yom Kippur, I hope to share some thoughts about where we - as a collective and as individuals - are heading this coming year, and I would love to be able to build upon your wisdom and insight as we envision the beautiful possibilities of the new year together.
Please send me a message between now and next Friday (9/22), letting me know what new things and opportunities you're pursuing this coming year. Please also let me know if it's okay to share your words with our community (no names will be shared). I look forward to hearing from you and to celebrating all of the newness in this coming year.
Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah!