Awesome moments between past, present and future – Greetings for the New Year 5779

Dear congregants, members, supporters, friends—chaverim,

This will be my 5th High Holy Days with you, or to be more precise, my 6th, as Chayim and I joined the congregation exactly 10 years ago for my rabbinic internship at Bet David. Much has changed in the past years, but also many things have remained untouched and sacred, as they have been for so many generations before us.

The High Holy Days are for me this special time of the year, where we live in these “awe“some moments between past, present and future, where we look out for the right balance of ideals and capability, of achievements and failures. For me Rosh Hashanah represents the renewal of our covenant with the Eternal and  every human being, and our wishes to become our better selves.

I look forward to celebrating some very meaningful festival days with you, the beginning of the New Year, and many
more years in your midst.


יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ
יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי
אֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְאִמּוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ
שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וְּמתוּקָה

 Y’hi ratzon mil’fanecha, Adonai Eloheinu v’Elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu,
shet’chadeish aleinu shanah tovah umtukah.

 Our God and God of our ancestors,
Eternal God of all generations:
May Your Presence in our lives
this New Year renew our spirits
and renew our strength.

May it be a good year.

May it be a sweet year.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah

—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Mishkan HaNefesh: Rosh HaShanah: Machzor for the Days of Awe (Page 300).

 

Your book of life

YOUR BOOK OF LIFE doesn’t begin … on Rosh HaShanah. It began when you were born. Some of the chapters were written by other people: your parents, siblings, and teachers. Parts of your book were crafted out of experiences you had because of other people’s decisions: where you lived, what schools you went to, what your homes were like. But the message of Rosh Ha-Shanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, is that everything can be made new again, that much of your book is written every day—by the choices you make. The book is not written and sealed; you get to edit it, decide what parts you want to emphasize and remember, and maybe even which parts you want to leave behind. Shanah tovah means both a good year, and a good change. [Every single day] you can change the rest of your life. It is never too late.

In 72 days, on Rosh HaShanah 5779, we will open a new page in our books of life. 72 days sound like a lot of days left to prepare ourselves for the new year — to organise the usual, and to fix what needs to be fixed.

While I agree that there is enough time left to make arrangements for the Rosh haShanah dinner, to get flights booked for family members to join us, and even to get your new machzorim (High Holy Day prayer books) from the Shul, I often have the feeling there is never enough time to review our past year.

Therefore, I‘d like you to begin with some simple, but important questions, making the next 72 days hopefully more meaningful: Which of the choices you made make you proud—which not so much? Had you time to celebrate achievements—where have you failed and have you had a chance to think about why?  When did you last suprise your partner/friend/children—and when did you last apologise to them?

Shabbat Shalom—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Quote: Rabbi Laura Geller (b. 1949) Mishkan HaNefesh: Rosh HaShanah, Page 5

Free picture (The book of life) from https://torange.biz/book-life-34868

Take the choices into our one hands

The Torah declares: “Surely, this instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.”  (Parashat Nitzavim, Dtn. 30)

On Rosh Hashanah we affirm that we can change. We proclaim that we can fix our mistakes and mend our ways. We believe that human beings are capable of repentance and change. Change however comes with difficulty. We all know that we all have the tendency to resist it. This is part of our human nature. Everyone wants to hold on to the past and in particular their imagination of that past. But, when we attempt to hold on to such imaginings we never serve the future. We find ourselves alone and comforted only by memories. Thus, change is necessary. It is required for our society. It is required for our people. It is required in our personal lives. We must regularly reinvent ourselves.

On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate our ability to change. We dip the apples into honey and say, “May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, to renew this year for us with sweetness and happiness.” The Hebrew word for renew is hadesh. We make new. We make the old new. We are never trapped in our old ways. Our lives are not predestined. Our choices are not predetermined. We can change. We can be different.

Too often we feel that our lives are beyond our control. To be sure, there are things that we cannot determine. Our health is not entirely in our own hands. Sometimes as well, other people’s choices affect our own and help to determine the directions of our lives. Yet our choices remain in our own hands. This is what we can change. And this is what we mark on Rosh Hashanah.

More than other day, this holiday offers us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and to take the choices into our own hands. Let us celebrate this day and seize this opportunity.

Chayim joins me in wishing you and your families a blessed New Year filled with love, peace, joy, health, prosperity and Yiddishkeit.

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good new year

Rabbi Adrian M Schell

 

A serious move – Rosh HaShanah 5775

Many of you know that I moved a few short weeks ago. Anyone, who has moved, knows that relocation from one place to another isn’t easy. There are so many things to consider. What needs to be put into the packing cases, what needs to be left, to be sold, given away, or maybe stored. Before we can move, we need to write lists, we plan, make arrangements, and try and get organised.

Whenever I looked around my apartment before the move, I was shocked to see how much ….. stuff had found its way onto my shelves. There a book, I once bought because I had always wanted to read it. Here, a gift from a good friend that I had never quite found the right spot for. And so many papers on my desk, papers that needed checking and sorting. There are many little keepsakes and souvenirs all over my shelves, reminders of the many wonderful moments in my life.
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