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To Breath Into the New Year

09/15/2020 07:37:19 AM

Sep15

While it’s true that every year is a year like no other, and every new year brings uniquely new possibilities, this year I find myself reaching back to my Ashkenazi upbringing:

This is takkeh* a year like no other! Halevay** this new year brings uniquely new possibilities! OY!

For the past six months, much of the world has been reeling and adapting as we have altered our habits and rituals, alert to and monitoring our health and the health of our loved ones, and relating to each other in new and unusual ways, largely from a distance or through a device.

Our senses have become heightened, attuned especially to the power as well as the fragility of breath.

At this turning of the year and the season, I’m imagining, and hoping for radical inspiration – that we use our energy and creativity to make our community, our city, our country and our planet homes where all can freely and fully breathe.

Since late May, the dying phrase of George Floyd of Minneapolis, “I can’t breathe,” has been poignantly and pointedly chanted on the streets of the United States, Canada, and across the globe. This has been a year when the call to say their names – the names of black and brown and Indigenous people whose breathing was cut short, and whose lives were cut down – reached many who may be hearing these calls anew, aroused to see the fundamental connections between us all, and the systems of injustice that serve to disconnect, differentiate, and discriminate.

As we are re-inspired to bear witness, to learn, to act, to change – leshanot - let us change ourselves in this new shana, our consciousness aroused. We also here, witness, and join in calling for change on behalf of all whose breathing is being cut short, and who lives are cut down, by the devastation wrought by wildfires and climate change.

Our holiday gatherings this year may be uniquely framed by the shapes of our computers, tablets or smart phones. Much of what we are called to face through the Days of Awe may feel newly pressing yet harken back to ways in which we allow ourselves to be called to account between every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We may prepare for the holidays with new customs and foods, or in ways we have done for years.

The shehecheyanu blessing, the one acknowledging the newness and blessing of the year’s beginning, is accompanied by the taste of honey.

May 5781/2020-2021 be a year in which we find ways to sweetly connect even as we keep ourselves at a healthy distance, in which, halevay, all breathe the breath of life with ease, safety, and dignity.

Shana tova umetuka – for a good, sweet year,

Rabbi Liz

* takkeh = really (but REALLY)
** halevay = may it be so

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781