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Ta Shema: August 25, 2022

The Joyfully Familiar Feeling of the

High Holidays


My daughter was recently on a plane for the second time in her life, but she has no memory of the first go around one year ago. She had the time of her life. The too big rocking chairs at ILM airport were fun to play in. The long metal tunnels that connected to the plane were the perfect stretch for practicing sprints. Inside the plane, Shlomi waved and said goodbye to all the people on the tarmac, neighboring planes, flashing lights, and tiny far-off buildings she encountered.

I was not surprised at her amusement with every aspect of plane travel, since I didn’t expect her to remember her first time. I was not expecting her to be just as amused with the experience on the way back. 

She laughed even louder as we walked through the long metal tunnels. She sang “The Wheels on the Bus” at the top of her lungs as she saw the different planes (we are working on the difference between a plane and a bus). On the way back, she even figured out the windows can open and shut.

With each trip, she got into the rhythm. She knew what was to be expected, looked forward to it, and embraced it. Each repetition was an opportunity for something new and a deeper connection.

And so we enter our holiest season of the year…again! The same time as last year according to the Hebrew calendar. With the holiday season comes the same formulas, ceremonies, prayers, traditions, and experiences that you may have experienced for decades. There is a delicate balance between keeping services familiar while also keeping them fresh and exciting. While we strive for innovation each and every year, and this year is no different, what might be the most novel this year is that we are returning to how the holidays used to look before Covid waivers and masks. This year, we return to normal, or at least as normal as we can at this stage in the pandemic. 

We recognize that Covid is still very much a reality, but we have transitioned to a period where each of us will take a personal risk assessment and decide what spaces feel safest for us. This year we will have, God willing, a normal, full-housed High Holiday season. For those not yet ready for big in person events, there will still be streaming available. A number of High Holiday events will be outdoors to accommodate all. 

Shlomi inspires us all to embrace the joyfully familiar feeling of a full voiced Shofar and a packed Rosh HaShannah dinner and services. I can’t wait to experience the comfortable and familiar rhythms of the season once again as they are meant to be experienced–with community.

From my family to yours, I wish you a Shannah Tova u’Metukah, a very sweet new year. May you experience many new things this year, and may you get an even greater joy from returning to a full and vibrant every day life.














Rabbi Chaya Bender

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784