Again, it’s Rosh Hashana. The time of year when Jews around the world celebrate the dawn of a New Year.
But as much as I love the sweet honey cake and singsong sounds of prayer, I’ve grown weary of the dire holiday narrative. As it is said: On Rosh Hashana, our fate for the coming year—joy or suffering, life or death—is decided. We then have 10 days, until Yom Kippur, to prove that we are worthy of the upside.
We are to do this through teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer) and tzedakah (charity).
Worthy pursuits, for sure.
But I refuse to spend 10 days in fear. Instead, I prefer to think of the fantastic opportunity that lies ahead.
Ten whole days to feel gratitude for the good fortune we experienced last year.
And ten whole days to set positive intentions for the year to come.
So I was elated when the rabbis of Judaism Your Way in Denver suggested that we turn teshuvah on its head this year.
They said: Rather than focusing on repentance (which is synonymous with remorse, shame and guilt) we should focus instead on gratitude and joy. And on courage.
And they urged us to remember that this beautiful and glorious planet—upon which we live and love and stand together—is sacred. And worthy of our respect.
In her sermon, Student Rabbi Kolby Morris-Dahary quoted from a Native American saying: We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
And she reminded us that the fate of the Earth—like our own—already is inscribed. But through our actions, we can save our planet from doom.
So here, my friends, are my hopes for 5780.
May we—each and every one of us—learn to grow or build something from scratch. (I promise to try!)
May we live more simply, love more freely, and waste less.
And may we dig our toes deep into dirt and sand.
Take fewer showers.
And dance by the light of the moon.