Another New Year? Now what? How can the High Holy Days become more meaningful just because I’m new? Well, it is a partnership. If you take your seat, fold your arms and wait for us to “entertain” you, which might not be the best start for a productive time spent in synagogue. If you come in open to the possibility of being moved in some way, that your spirit can be uplifted, your attitude challenged and you can leave the building slightly different from the way that you entered, then you have given our partnership the chance to be successful.
I learned from one of my teachers, Rabbi Neil Gillman, that when he comes to synagogue to pray, he does not necessarily read every page. He prefers to stop and think about something that he has read that may move him, and jump ahead to wherever the congregation may be when he is ready to do so. This way he creates a unique prayer experience for himself. You too may find that a specific line in the machzor may speak to you in a special way. Take the time to think about why that is, and do not worry about falling behind us; in fact, by doing this, you may be ahead of us.
Do not be afraid to dip into the supplementary inspirational readings. The same prayer cannot inspire everyone, so be open to the possibility that you can find something meaningful within the pages, as long as you are willing to look. Just as an athlete needs to warm up properly before participating in the sport, so too must a worshipper warm up properly to be able to make the time in synagogue worthwhile. Give yourself a chance. If you are willing, our partnership can be life altering.
Janice, Rachel, Aaron and I wish all of our new family at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha a sweet and joyous New Year. L’shana Tova Tikatevu V’techatemu. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.