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Emotional Week, New Beginnings

An emotional week for sure. And I’m not even talking about the devastating  Hurricane Harvey aftermath (but you can read about that here).

Our Shayna started high school on Tuesday; she will be living in Chicago during the week, coming home for most weekends. We know that she’ll be in good hands there, guided by some of the best Jewish educators, but the transition has certainly taken us on an emotional roller coaster.

My Facebook memories brought up a picture of her seven years ago, on her first day of second grade. Hard to believe that she is now moving on to the next chapter in life, and even more difficult to come to terms with is that Chanie and I are parents of a high schooler.

I’ve always found it interesting that the school year begins in the weeks leading up to the Jewish new year rather than at the beginning of the civil year. In our home this is not really unique, because for us the Jewish calendar is primary and the civil calendar is just used for technicalities and logistics. So of course, school starts at the “real” beginning of the year.

The new Jewish year is not commemorated with parties and celebrations like January 1. There are no fireworks and certainly no raucous all-nighters waiting for the ball to drop. There is a lot of praying and introspection, looking towards a year of success and growth, health and happiness.

The sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah serves to remind us of the theme of the holiday; that it’s a new beginning and an opportunity to start over. Even if the previous year was not that great, whether spiritually or mundanely, the new year holds so much potential. In fact, this applies to everyone, even if the last year seemed to be a good one for you. Hearing the shofar is the wakeup call intended to take us to the next level, which is why it is so central to Rosh Hashanah.

It’s all about moving on, discovering potential we were never even aware existed within us.

Kind of like starting a new school year.

So here’s to new beginnings.

Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov 

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