The highest Jewish holidays have come and gone but their message remains alive and well and strong.
For us Jews, the message on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is that we could have lived better in the previous year and ask forgiveness from God and others.
I dig deep into my soul over the holidays during group prayers, chants, readings and sermons. I sit in the synagogue for hours and the time goes by – even when I’m hungry on Yom Kippur. I feel the community.
But what happens after the holidays, after we have made our amends? For me, it’s a question of how I can make this year better than the last, learn from the mistakes I made, and not repeat them. We all make mistakes, but it’s how we handle them and move on that is the true test of life’s journey.
New Year’s resolutions are not a requirement, but many make them. I think it’s a good idea. Some resolve to work harder, call their families more often, eat more nutritious foods or exercise more. I think these are all good on the surface, but for me, it’s about being a better person and being more in touch with my foibles and addressing them. It’s also about more honest communication, the type that delivers messages in a kind way that honors the other person.
The High Holy Days are rooted in teshuvah, or repentance. I think the next step is tikkun olam, a major tenant of Judaism meaning to repair, or heal, the world. If each of us does daily acts of tzedakah, giving aid or assistance in our own way to make the world a better place, we will make a difference.
It could be a warm smile to a stranger in need, a clothing donation, money to a charity, a gift of food to a neighbor, a phone call to stay in touch, or volunteering your time for an organization. Or it could be a bigger effort to prevent hunger, homelessness, disease, ignorance, abuse and oppression. Whatever you choose to do, big or small, you are honoring your faith, yourself, your fellow man, the world and, most of all, God.
Patricia Raskin is an award-winning radio producer and talk show host. “The Patricia Raskin Show” airs on WPRO. She is a board member of Temple Emanu-El. Raskin can be reached at patriciaraskin.com.