Preparing for Rosh HaShanah

rabbi katzRosh HaShanah is in a month, and I wanted to suggest some ways that you can prepare for the holiday. I assume that all of you will make arrangements for tickets, make dinner plans and send New Years cards, if that is your custom. In the shul, we are sounding the shofar at our weekday service, and reciting Psalm 27. In addition, we are offering a range of classes that I hope you will find of interest. (See sidebar.) But I wanted to encourage you to prepare for the new year in another way. 

The High Holy Days are really about being alone with just yourself. It is true, the synagogue is filled. But the challenge of the season is for each of us to reflect on our lives. And no one else can do that for us. I have always struggled with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur for this very reason. But ultimately, the struggle helps me to grow. And that is what this season is all about.

Here are a few suggestions for ways that you can prepare yourself for the upcoming holidays.

Checklist for the High Holy Days!

Review the main events of the past year--use your calendar to help you remember.

Reflect on your relationships:

  • Which relationships do you need to repair or let go?
  • To whom do you need to apologize?

Think about who you are and consider some of the following questions:

  • What parts of yourself have you abandoned?
  • For what do you need to forgive yourself or let go?
  • What about yourself makes you proud?
  • What about yourself is a bit of a concern?

book of forgivingRead a book on the holiday themes. Below are a few that I have read over the years. If you need help selecting a book, please be in touch. I would very much like to help you find the book that is right for you.

  • The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
  • Meditations for the Days of Awe by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins
  • Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth Edited by Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins
  • The Seven Questions You are Asked in Heaven by Dr. Ron Wolfson
  • Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe by Erica Brown
  • The Bridge to Forgiveness by Rabbi Karyn D Kedar
  • Passing Life's Tests: Spiritual Reflections on The Trial of Abraham and the Binding of Isaac by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
  • This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation by Rabbi Alan Lew

driven leafJust a gentle reminder to read As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg. I will explore the book with the congregation on Kol Nidre. It is a historical novel set in the second century Jerusalem and Antioch, one generation after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE). As a Driven Leaf struggles with the conflict between reason and Torah, and science and faith. While the story takes place 2,000 years ago, the struggle is the same one you and I have today. As A Driven Leaf is well worth your time to read. Click here and here to read two reviews of the book. We have copies available in our Katz Family Library, and you can purchase your own by clicking here.

Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz, PhD

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