Last Sunday evening, Jews all over the world celebrated the start of the year 5783. We began the holiday meal dipping apples in honey to symbolize our wish for a sweet year.
Our family went with a mix of traditional classics with a few modern twists: warm home-made bread, gefilte fish (mixed reviews), vegetable matzo ball soup, kugel and brisket. The Aussie family is finally here and my grandson met some of his aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. This house – this eclectic, spirited, colorful house – swelled with old and new generation love, grounded in history.
Now the real work begins.
The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe. I’ve heard this phrase my entire life and never thought about what it means. Awe, by definition, entails fear, wonder and respect. I feel it when I experience something so powerful that I am rendered speechless – a brilliant moon, La Traviata, a perfect snowflake, a French almond croissant, or the birth of a baby. My dad, who survived the Holocaust, often described the Holocaust as awesome, meaning incomprehensible in its scope and horror.
Why are these the Days of Awe? Because incorporated in the feeling of awe is reverence and respect. According to Judaism this is an opportunity to make amends with people we may have wronged, to examine our behavior and ask forgiveness. You don’t have to be Jewish to do it. We can all benefit from rituals and traditions from other cultures.
This call to action may involve an apology or a mutual agreement to disagree. It is a time to reflect on the last year and look forward to renewal in the year to come. Evaluating our relationships to others, taking responsibility and never losing a sense of wonder are fundamental in the concept of tikkun olam, repair of the world.
Look for daily experiences of awe. Meet me there.