Starting anew at Rosh Hashanah in the era of COVID-19


This has been quite a year for all of us. It has been a year of transition and change, as well as  several national and global crises. The coronavirus, of course, is the biggest problem, but there are four other big ones – the economy, race, politics and climate change.  We have all had to make adjustments.

These times call for adaptability and flexibility and resilience. Throughout our long history, Jews have faced many challenges and crises – and we have risen, survived and thrived.

So, as the new year draws near, this is the perfect time to reset, and to choose how “the new normal” will be for us in the coming year.

After presenting global webinars on dealing with COVID-19, and hearing from participants, I truly realize that we are all in this together, experiencing the same basic needs and emotions. In response to this, I have come up with five actions vital to moving through this challenging time:

  • Cultivate routines. There is a larger-than-usual gap between what we can and can’t control at the moment, and this brings us discomfort. The more we know, the more we have structure and routines, the safer and more secure we feel.
  • Hone your listening skills. This is a great opportunity to really hear our loved ones. This means listening with empathy, letting others speak freely, and hearing from their perspective, without judgment.
  • Practice self-care. During this time of crisis, we need to strive for balance. Exercise, good nutrition, mindfulness, relaxation and a focus on problem-solving will make a big difference in our attitude, energy and motivation.
  • Take a news break. Constantly listening to the news can overwhelm and stress us, so limit your news intake.
  • Accept the “new normal.” Accepting and working through the loss we feel over “the way it was” will help us to release and start again.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is the perfect time to make these changes, as Rabbi Asher Resnick notes in his article, “The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah: An In-Depth Analysis,” posted at He writes, “The essence of Rosh Hashanah is specifically this point – that it is the very beginning of the new year. Just as God originally created mankind as a completely blank slate on the very first Rosh Hashanah, similarly He creates every one of us anew with a similarly blank slate at the beginning of each new year. 

“Rosh Hashanah is our once-a-year opportunity to establish a fresh new direction and reality in our lives. Don’t get stuck in the past. Ask yourself: ‘If I was born this very instant, without the constraints of my various past habits and patterns, what would I do? How would I ideally want to live this brand-new year?’ ”

Shanah tovah! 

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.