Happy Heshvan! A Post-Holiday Reflection

Rabbi Elliot Goldberg, Upper School Principal
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 Torah reports that 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.

Golda Och Academy, like other Jewish day schools, synagogues and Jewish organizations, runs on Jewish time. This means that we pause and make time to celebrate the holidays.

In the fast paced world in which we live, one that calls us to be online always and to respond to everyone and everything immediately, Judaism suggests that we slow down and take the time to rejoice.

Over the past few weeks Jewish families have joined together in synagogues, at school, at the park,and in our homes to eat, sing, dance, play and pray. We blew the shofar, casted our sins away at tashlich, confessed our wrongdoings, 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 grow as a result of their experiences. At Golda Och Academy, we do this and more; we also nourish the soul.

While some lament dedicating so much time to the fall holidays, I believe deeply that the time that we invest in the construction of sacred space and in communal celebration provides us with experiences that are infinitely valuable and 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 know that I am better for having done so. The experiences that I had and the relationships that I strengthened during the hagim (holidays) will nourish me for a long, long time.

During the Jewish month of Heshvan, which begins today, there are no Jewish holidays. There is much work to be done. I’m excited to get to it.

I also feel prepared for the work ahead after having taken advantage of Jewish moments to reflect, rejoice, celebrate and be.

I hope that you do too.

Wishing you a shanah tovah and happy Heshvan.
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