Looking back, looking forward

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I’ll let you in on a secret: I always feel a little wistful at the end of August.

Summer is about over and nights are already cooler. Stores are advertising back-to-school items instead of beach toys. Bloggers are writing about packing healthy lunches instead of about picnics.

In recent years, some of that wistfulness has to do with COVID-19, a virus that just doesn’t seem to want to go away. We are trying to learn to live with it while going about our business, but it is still a consideration in most of our lives.

This August, I started to think about all the plans I had for the summer that didn’t happen. Trips to the beach and festivals. Hikes on the beautiful trails in Rhode Island and surrounding states. Flights to far-off destinations.

Instead, I stayed close to home, or inside, where it was cool and COVID-free. Enjoyable, but not quite what I’d planned.

I heard on the news recently that the coming winter will be our third with COVID, a sobering thought.

But now we are in the month of Elul, the lead-up to the High Holy Days and a time of introspection and reflection. So I’m trying to turn my wistfulness into a look at what happened this year and what’s to come.

After all, we have come a long way since the start of 5782. This past year, we were talking about COVID-19 incessantly and discussing whether High Holy Days services would be in-person or live-streamed. Things were sometimes calm, but only between surges that caused many of us to stay home once again.

Happily, this year, in-person worship and gatherings are again standard in many of our congregations, although many are still offering an online option – and probably will for a long time to come.

A year ago, masks were mandatory. Now they are not. No matter how you feel about this change, we can agree that it is a big change.

Programming in our Jewish community continues to rebound from the COVID-closure days, a positive sign for those looking to see their friends and neighbors and to enjoy a full life. The halls outside my office at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center were alive with happy campers this summer. And while some programming remains virtual, more and more is coming back to the JCC.

So it is in the spirit of looking forward that we bring you our annual High Holy Days edition. Each year, it starts all of us thinking about the new year and its holidays, both solemn and joyous.

This year, we have some interesting recipes, starting on page 14 and sprinkled throughout the holiday section. Perhaps you will add one of these dishes to your traditional table. And, as always, we have some articles that offer food for thought.

This is also one of our biggest issues of the year for advertising. Take some time to look at the businesses and people who support your newspaper by buying an ad to wish you a shanah tovah. And make sure you think of our advertisers – many of whom support us year-round – when you need the services they provide.

Advertising is an important piece of our budget at Jewish Rhode Island. To every advertiser in this issue, we say todah rabbah, thank you very much!

And finally, let me remind you that you still have an opportunity to do your civic duty before the new year: Rhode Island’s primary is Sept. 13. Please participate!

From my family to yours, l’shanah tovah.