It could be said at the beginning of each and every High Holy Day season, “This year the High Holy Days will be a very different experience,” because each and every year, we are different. Hopefully, we have been able to act on and grow spiritually from the cheshbon hanefesh, the self-accounting, of the year before. In addition, each year our life experiences bring us new joys and, most likely, some new sadness. This year we have all grieved the normalcy of our pre-pandemic lives, but we have also grown as a result of recent hardships. We have supported each other and shown our resiliency in the face of duress.
Yet, this year, as we sit down in our homes to worship using our laptops, iPads, or phones, our High Holy Day worship will be a very, very different experience. Please remember that even though we are physically apart, we are still coming together in community. God will hear our synchronous voice. It may be that for many of us, this year will probably include much more individual prayer and meditation than any year before. Perhaps we’ll find ourselves taking our prayerbooks to a park bench on a beautiful fall morning. This year, let’s hold on strongly to the idea that God is everywhere and that God hears our prayers, no matter where they are offered.
Throughout these High Holy Days, as we look back and look forward, may our teshuvah bring us repair and hope as we re-affirm our commitment to our Eternal God.
May the coming year be a good one, filled with health and sweetness for you and your loved ones.
L’shanah tovah um’tukah,
Rabbi Sandra M. Bellush