Some time last year, I received a “Friend Request” on Facebook from someone I had not seen in over 30 years.
I had been Audrey’s and Don’s religious school teacher at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts while I was a student at Boston University and for the next two years following my graduation. I had not seen them since I left Boston to attend rabbinical school.
I was delighted that Audrey tracked me down! We had some mutual friends in common and she had seen some of my postings on Facebook. I’ve since re-connected with her parents and brother, Don, as well.
This is not an unusual story. I’m sure many of us can share similar stories where we’ve reconnected with friends from our distant past. Friendships from long ago have been renewed and refreshed. And as my mother (of blessed memory) used to say: “What a m’chayeh!” What a great joy!
Rosh Hashanah and the Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe, begin next Wednesday evening (September 24, 2014).
Making connections is what the upcoming High Holy Days are all about: connecting with our innermost selves, connecting with our Jewish community and connecting with God.
There are times the High Holy Days arrive and we feel as if they are distant strangers. How do we make those connections so we feel renewed, refreshed and revitalized?
In a manner of speaking, we make those connections the same way we do on Facebook: by being part of a larger community. The more connected you are, the more connections you will make and the deeper and more meaningful those connections will be.
We are taught in our tradition: Al tiros min hatzibur – Do not separate yourself from your community (Pirke Avot 2:5).
Traditionally, in the Jewish world, a “community” is defined as 10 people. This concept is known as a minyan. Why? Because a group of 10 people has the power to persuade others to make decisions. If you are in the synagogue and not feeling moved by prayer, the voices of others around you can lift your spirits. There is great power, strength and fortitude in community.
When we study in chevruta, in partnership with others, we inspire each other by sharing our questions, our insights and our own thought processes. And, as the old UJA Federation slogan said: “There is no commUnity without “U.”
As we approach the High Holy Days this year, I offer this blessing:
May you find your place & space in your Jewish community.
May the connections you build be strong and vital.
May these connections enrich your spirit and nourish your soul.
May you hear the innermost voices of your heart.
May you feel touched by the hearts and hands of those around you.
May you touch the lives of others in meaningful ways.
May you hear and feel God’s presence in your life.
Shana Tova U’m’tukah – A New Year Filled with the Blessings of Health, Joy, Contentment and Peace!