Next holiday coming up: Chanukah


   1st Candle December 16, 2014 (24 Kislev)






From Ruth Etkin:

 In the life of the spirit there is no ending that is not a beginning.
                                                          Henrietta Szold

 Henrietta Szold’s ideals, ideas, and dreams have motivated most of us for more years than we care to count.  Her words have inspired us, our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters for generations and will, we know, continue to inspire for generations yet to come.  Though we have heard the above quotation cited often, it is particularly appropriate to recall as we approach the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah 5775 and Yom Kippur in September-October.

 We mark the end of one year and begin another with appropriate prayers and symbolic food: the challah on our festive Rosh Hashanah table is round, signifying this continuing cycle (as well as the shape of the world created, according to tradition, on this day); the apples (or pomegranates) that we dip in honey (in hope of a sweet year ahead) recall not only the earth’s round shape, but also Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, the first “ending” that became a new “beginning”. Tradition takes us to the banks of running water for tashlich to symbolically “throw away our sins” with breadcrumbs, ending the year past so we can start the new year ahead. 

 This is the time of the year when we are “at-one-ment” (the original meaning of the English word “atonement”) with G-d and our conscience.  Our communication with G-d, asking forgiveness, fasting in contrition for our own, and our community’s sins, is another way to wipe clean the slate of 57 that is ending and prepare a new slate for 5775, always in the hope that we will take the opportunity to make good use of this “second chance” that comes each year at this time.

The purpose of those 10 Days of Awe, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, is to contemplate the past as we look to the future.  While some things are beyond our ability to control, there is much that we can do to make a difference in the year ahead - in our families, in our local and national community, and, of course, in our Hadassah life.  This is the time for closing “the books” on one year and planning ahead for the next: if it worked, keep doing it; if it didn’t, try another path.  We end this year with much accomplished; let us commit ourselves to even more as we approach a new beginning.

 From the moment we start Rosh Hashanah by greeting each other with “ L’shana tova tikatavu,”  May you be written for a good year (in the Book of Life), through the sounding of the shofar ending Yom Kippur, by which time we have blessed each other with Gmar Hatimatova, May you be sealed (in the Book of Life) for a good year, may we take to heart Henrietta Szold’s words to us and use this new beginning wisely and well.


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