A regular complaint in our world today seems to be that we have too little time for anything. Time seems vastly beyond our grasp or control these days, like so many other things in our busy lives and our increasingly chaotic world.
Time is a tricky thing.
Or is it?
The Aseret Yamei Teshuva, the ten days of repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is a beautifully fixed, measured, and named time. According the famous piyyut (liturgical poem) Unetaneh Tokef, it is within this exact time that “T’shuvah, T’fillah and Tz’dakah have the power to transform the harshness of our destiny…”
It would seem then that there’s an easy fix. We just need to behave and give and pray within those ten days and all will be well…right?
We all know that of course, these days of reflection are merely the season opener of what it takes to really transform and gain ownership of what is to come. It’s why the High Holy Day period is so perfectly timed at the beginning of our school year. It correctly acknowledges that one rarely gets things right on the first try, the first time round. Every project requires editing, polishing, and corrections. Every assignment we are ever given, personally or professionally, needs work.
Even, or especially, when the assignment is who we are and who we intend to be.
After weeks of dedicated study with our Middle Schoolers of this exact piyyut and the actions championed by it – meaningful prayer, charitable giving, and personal reflection and repentance – we are busily gearing up to dedicate some time (Tuesday Morning October 4th, to be exact, from 8:45 am onwards) to learning about these concepts at our Teshuva Carnival. Students will be gifted a carabiner that they will carry with them to earn rings at different carnival booths built by our middle schoolers, teaching these topics. We ask that students wear white that day and come ready to engage in a series of games and activities that will hopefully bring them one step closer to who they wish to be, in 5783.
It just takes time.
Wishing you and your families a sweet and healthy new year, an easy fast, and g’mar chatima tova – may you be written and sealed in the Book of Life.
Jamie Zimmer, Director of Jewish Life & Learning