The High Holidays are a time of sacred possibility. We imagine that despite the habits and shortcomings that have held us back in the past, this year, we have the capacity to be different. This year, we have the capacity to be our best selves, to forge the best relationships we can, create the best world we can.
How can we start anew? And what does spending three days in synagogue praying in a language many of us don’t understand have to do with starting over?
First, changing our lives so often requires our faith that change is possible. We come together at High Holiday services to lift each other up, to breathe life into the dreams of all those around us. It is easier to believe we can change when we support one another to do so.
Second, the High Holidays offer us time and space to reflect on our lives, take stock, and figure out how to move forward. We take time to reflect on our deepest longings, hopes, and fears. We give each other courage to be honest with ourselves about where we need to grow, where we might offer apology or forgiveness in order to let go of guilt or hurt.
Third, the High Holidays are holy. On these three days Jews around the world stand before God and chant the same haunting prayers and hear the same cries of the Shofar as many of us heard as children before we even knew how to talk. We utter the same words that our ancestors spoke 1000 years ago. There is power in these ancient rituals. They ground us deeply in who we have been and give us strength to transform into who we hope to be.
I hope you will join us this year, to dream, to reflect, to transform. As Mary Oliver writes,
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to come as you are, present to the possibility of who you might become.
Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin