How did you celebrate Rosh Hashanah this week? Were you able to gather together with family, pray together with congregants, or was it another holiday by Zoom?
My family joined Congregation Beth Am in 1976 when they moved back to California and I joined as an adult when my son was born in 1997. This Rosh Hashanah, we once again had services over Zoom – streaming in from my parents’ living room, we prayed, sang, and listented together. The Rabbis all commented that this year was supposed to be different, but were thankful for the small changes of at least sharing the bima together and having some members present for the morning services.
Beth Am played a formative role in my childhood and continues to serve as an inspiration for how to be in community. I was moved by Rabbi Watenmaker’s focus on the importance of gemilut hasadim, acts of loving kindness. He articulated that the long periods of isolation have left our muscles of interacting with others weak and challenged everyone in the congregation to perform 100 acts of loving kindness in the year of 5782. He believes that by focusing on the humanness of others will help us all heal. As we focus inward on these days of reflection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we must also focus outward on how we treat each other.
We know as parents and teachers that the words we speak and the promises we make to our children and our students matter. When we are authentic with our words and true to our promises we build trust and solid relationships, two prerequisites for learning. I chose a career in education to make a difference in the lives of children and now as Yavneh’s Head of School I bring that commitment to all of you. As I make decisions, take action, and build my relationships with all of you through conversations and correspondence, please know that they are well-intentioned and always at the center is my commitment to make a difference in the lives of your children. And of course, I will slip and I will make mistakes and so as we approach Yom Kippur to those I have caused pain, please let me know so that I can make it right.
G’mar hatimah tovah,