When Pesach is in March and Shavu’ot concludes before Memorial Day, then you know that Rosh HaShanah will come early in the secular calendar. The High Holy Days begin just after Labor Day this year (Thursday and Friday, September 9 and 10), which means now is the time to anticipate maximizing your ability to participate fully.
Of course, I encourage you to communicate with employers and schools the special challenges weekday holidays bring. Our synagogue office and the Jewish Community Relations Council are ready to help explain our particular needs with sensitivity and accuracy.
But if all that holiday preparations represent are the inconvenience of scheduling, your heart will be aching for the most trivial of reasons when it should be yearning toward greatness instead.
Please think about how to be generous. Of course we are grateful for your monetary generosity, and you will most certainly be approached to support the shul and other worthwhile causes. Yet there are other ways to cultivate generosity as the holidays approach. It is a difficult time for people who are distant from family, or who are new to Judaism, or who have been bereaved since last Yom Kippur. Share your table and your affection with them. And generosity is not limited to holidays or Jews, for that matter. Enter the Days of Awe knowing you have renewed life for someone who might have despaired.
Please think about how to dress. Many members of our congregation have eschewed fashion for simplicity. The kittel, a plain white garment, is the traditional garb for these days (especially Yom Kippur). Imagine a sea of white greeting you as you enter the Cohen Sanctuary, drawing your attention to the purity of the day and to the familiar faces of our congregational family.
Please think about sharing your thoughts. Once again we will publish a reflections booklet including the original writings of our members. Your contribution will enhance the variegated experience of those who spend time in the sanctuary. Because of the dates of the holidays, the absolute deadline for contributions is August 15. Please limit your contribution to 250 words and appropriate subject matter for people of all ages and perspectives. Please send your writing in Word-compatible format to email@example.com in hard copy to the synagogue office.
And please think about repentance. Perhaps it sounds quaint or even silly to reflect on your shortcomings and try to correct them, but in the end it is the essence of our sacred gathering. To be sure there are many reasons for us to fill the synagogue and our dining rooms at this time of year, and all of them are important. But none is more important than the promise of forgiveness and renewal that comes to the person who acknowledges his or her shortcomings and resolves to do better.
Have a great summer – we will all see each other sooner than you think!