Rosh Hashanah & the Optimism of a New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the High Holiday season, began Sunday night. Like last year, I attended the Monday morning services at Gettysburg College, and once again, I was deeply moved by the beautiful liturgy. We use the Mishkan Hanefesh, the machzor from the Reform Jewish Community. I just wanted to share a few pieces from that liturgy, in the spirit of fostering a spirit of hope and optimism at the beginning of a new year. Maybe mid-September doesn’t feel like a new year to you (it still does in academia); if not, take it as an opportunity for fall renewal. I hope you enjoy the reflections, and Shanah Tovah!

“They went forth from Egypt on a single night but next time the miracle will be different.

Once two Sages were walking very early in the valley and they saw the light of the morning star. Said one to the other, This is how the redemption will be. The dawn breaks with a single ray of light and bit by bit the sky is illumined, until morning comes and the darkness is gone. So the redemption will occur little by little, growing steadily and gradually until the world is full of light.

Do not wait for a miracle or the sudden transformation of the world. Bring the day closer, step by step, with every act of courage, of kindness, of healing and repair. Do not be discouraged by the darkness. Lift up every spark you can and watch the horizon for the coming of the dawn. Look closely! It has already begun.”

“I feel called today to bring people together to break the bread and tell the story, I feel called today to be a mystic in action, aligned to the dynamics of the universe. I feel called today to give my gift, to listen to the heartbeat of the broken world; to heal the fragmentation of people and planet. I feel called today to celebrate the wonder of creation and respond to the sacredness and the challenges of life….I feel called today to be inflamed with enduring hope, to be at one with the universe, to be touched by God. I feel called today to compose a new paragraph for life.”

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