The High Holidays: A Time for Repair & Healing

September 23, 2022

The High Holidays: A Time for Repair & Healing

By Rhoda Smolow,

As Jews around the world prepare for the Jewish New Year, we reflect, we reckon with ourselves, we atone. We ask ourselves the biggest, hardest questions about who we are and how we have moved through our world, and take an honest look at the impact of our actions and inactions, especially on others. This is the annual journey we take to forgiveness and repair. As deeply personal as this journey is, we embark together, reminded that there is no one who has lived their life so righteously that they do not need forgiveness.

This year, at times, it felt like we were constantly in crisis-response mode, including in our work at Hadassah. From the war in Ukraine to the war on women's health and bodies. From acts of war against Israel, to rising antisemitism, racism and hate. From school shootings to natural disasters. And who among us didn't find ourselves confronting crises or challenges in our personal lives, too — in our bodies, our minds and spirits, our relationships — even as we navigated the ups and downs of the pandemic and economic uncertainty?

In ourselves and in our world, there is much that needs repair and healing. A few years ago, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue put it beautifully: "The purpose of the Shofar blast is to shake us up... the shofar blast should be a wake up call that reminds us to dig a little deeper, to bear into what is hard, to stop living life on the surface of it all."

I suspect this period of reflection feels like a gift to those of us who are hungry for a new year, the opportunity to find in our worst moments the ability to repair and renew, to take what we need from the past to head into the new year afresh.

I've been thinking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's words about repair this week. It's hard to believe it’s been two years since she passed away as Rosh Hashanah began. A brilliant powerhouse, trailblazer and Hadassah life member, she said she’d like to be remembered as "someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has." This is what we do at Hadassah, part of our shared belief that when we empower women, we can help heal our world.

I’m so grateful to all of you, our volunteers and staff, supporters and members/Associates, women and men of all ages, who come together through Hadassah to help heal our world. You know how important it is to be active, not passive — whether we're seeking forgiveness or healing our world.

We can't fix all that is broken. But we must do the work of repair and healing. That’s why so many of us recommit to being the people we want to be — to living our values — and to setting our intentions for the new year. I hope you'll find that coming together with our Hadassah community is one meaningful way you can do just that. And that in the new year, you find a sense of hope and promise, resilience and, of course, much sweetness.

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