June 8, 2023 /
In just a few days we will be entering into a new Jewish year and it’s hard to believe that we are still dealing with the pandemic. As things were progressing so beautifully in the spring, I could not fathom back then that we would still be dealing with this in the fall. Last year’s High Holy Days were unprecedented. I really believed that I would only see one unprecedented High Holy Days in my lifetime. And yet, here we are again. Even as I write this, mere days away from Rosh Hashanah, I am not quite sure what to expect.
But here’s what I know to be true: we are people who endure; we are people who constantly reinvent millennia old traditions; we are a people who know adversity well and have the resilience of spirit to overcome; we are people who are constantly reinventing what it means to live in a sacred community. Yes, the High Holy Days will again look different than before, but they are still our holy days as we have ritualized them for thousands of years. Ahead of us lies a brand-new year and I can’t begin to predict how the new year will unfold for us. However, I pray that it will be a year of peace and blessing and health for each and every one of us.
For the last few years, we have begun the Erev Rosh Hashanah service with the singing of The Time Is Now:
The time is now.
We gather around.
So bring all your gifts,
And bring all your burdens with you.
No need to hide.
Arms open wide.
We gather as one to make a makom kadosh.
We are a people who know that anytime is the right time to begin again – to be renewed and to start over. The fact that we are still living through a pandemic doesn’t change that. The time is still now for us to gather together, whether in-person or through the blessing of technology, to make a holy place for our souls, to relieve ourselves of our burdens, atone for our wrongs, and enter into a new year renewed for better. May we complete the year 5782 in a much better place than we are starting it. May we make that a reality through the way we act, through the way we live, and through the way we respond to the world around us.
Philip N. Bazeley