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Get Personal: Reflections and Change for the Jewish New Year

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed us, how we interact with people, how we behave and how we live. I find one tradition that is not affected by this pandemic.

Davi and Bracha at Tashlich, Venice Beach, Los Angeles.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed us, how we interact with people, how we behave and how we live. This year, with the surge of the Covid Delta variant, our synagogue leadership has decided to hold services virtually – yet again.

The High Holy Days, (in Hebrew, Yamin Noraim, literally, the Days of Awe), starting from the month of Elul and continuing through Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and all the way to the end of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, are the most spiritually intense period for me. Although I miss participating in person in the many services, celebrations, and rituals, I find one tradition that is not affected by this pandemic.

One of the gifts Jewish traditions give us during these Days of Awe is the invitation to make a serious effort to review our past year, ask forgiveness, make amends. This process of t’shuva – of turning/returning – is intended to help us strive to become our best selves.

Bracha, my spouse of 42 years, and I created a custom long ago of doing t’shuva, and I’d like to share it with you in the hopes you can adapt it for your own use. We set aside one day in the span of these Days of Awe for a very special date. We share a sumptuous meal and deep dive into an accounting of our lives together. We begin with the appetizers, while we eat, we share our thoughts on what was good in the past year, what we have accomplished both individually and as a couple. During the main course we recount events and/or behaviors that we regret, we sincerely apologize for the things we have said or done that are hurtful, we then ask for forgiveness from one another. The sharing is quite often intimate and emotional, but having a delicious meal makes it easier to swallow. Finally, the dessert! While we enjoy the sweetness, we share our hopes, future wishes, and goals. What do we look forward to? What haven’t we done that we wish to achieve? As we listen, we encourage one another to pursue our dreams.

For those of you reading this who are not in a relationship, you can still do this. Make a date with yourself, write down your accomplishments, regrets and goals. Learn to forgive yourself and give yourself permission to dream and set goals for the next year. Or do this with a friend, especially one you wish to get closer to. It can be done on Zoom or in person.

In my own experience, doing t’shuva gives me hope and brings me peace of mind. I know I am a better person going into the New Year, and the love Bracha and I have for each other increases each year.
Wishing all of you a Sweet New Year, and may you find peace and the strength to become the person you wish to be.
Shanah Tovah!

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