Last week, the festival of Sukkot came to an end. Sukkot is a seasonal holiday, marking the time when our ancestors slept in huts in the fields as they brought in the fall harvest. The holiday also calls upon us to recollect the post-exodus journey of the biblical narrative during which the Israelites lived in temporary, transportable housing as they travelled to their permanent home in the Promised Land. Coming on the heels of the Days of Awe, when we reflect upon human frailty and failure, the holiday is also a time for rejoicing after completing an intense period of introspection and self-reflection.
Solomon Schechter Day School, together with other Jewish day schools, synagogue and Jewish organizations, runs on Jewish time, which means that we pause and make time to celebrate. In the fast paced world in which we live, one that demands that we are always online and that we respond to everyone and everything instantaneously, Judaism teaches us to slow down. Over the past few weeks Jewish families have joined together in synagogues, at school, in the park and in our homes to eat, sing, dance, play and pray. We blew the shofar, cast our sins away at tashlich, confessed our misdeeds, marched with lulav and etrog, dined in the sukkah, and danced with the Torah.
Schools nourish the brain. They build environments in which students are challenged to engage the world in new ways and to develop as a result of their experiences. At Schechter, we do this and more; we also nourish the soul. The time that we invest in the construction of sacred space and in community celebration provides us and our children with experiences that are far too rare in the world in which we live.
As it is every year on the 30th of Tishrei, my inbox is full and my “to do” list is long. Yet, I do not regret having taken the time to celebrate. In fact, I am better for it and I know that the experiences that I had and the relationships that I built during the hagim (holidays) will nourish me for a long, long time.
During the month of Heshvan, there are no Jewish holidays. There is much work to be done. I’m excited to get to it. I feel so much more prepared for the tasks that are before me after having taken advantage of Jewish moments to reflect, rejoice, celebrate and be. I hope that you do too. Shanah tovah (Happy new year)!