by DeDe Jacobs-Komisar, Development Manager
We’re now in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, aka Where Things Start Getting Real. If you have reflection and repentance on your mind, the whole process supposedly begins back at the start of Elul – the Jewish month preceding the High Holidays. We blow the shofar every day of Elul, to wake us up to return to God and ourselves. But Elul comes at the end of the summer, where we’re trying to get in our last kicks of freedom. Then it’s the back-to-school frenzy, and all of a sudden we’re standing in shul contemplating Divine judgment. That escalated quickly.
The intensity of Rosh Hashanah is mitigated by its sweetness – the new fruits, family gatherings, the best wishes for the new year. Yeah, there’s repentance, but there’s also honey cake. Then it ends, and we’re back to school and work and daily life, until a week later on Yom Kippur when we hope to get written and sealed in the Book of Life.
These days demand that we stand up and confront ourselves for all of our wrongs this past year, ask for forgiveness, vow to do better for our families, communities, and world. But even at its most intense, Yom Kippur is graced by an intimacy with God – and with one another – in experiencing this process together. I’ll always remember a Yom Kippur I spent in Israel where Ne’ilah, the final service, ended with an outburst of joyful singing and dancing that lasted a good hour after the fast had ended. Women and men who minutes earlier had been crying to God now clapped and sang with equally intense happiness – so great was their trust that all would be well, that we would get through the year together just as we’d helped each other through this day. Then the real challenge comes – not forgetting; taking the realness of the day into our year.
I’ve been thinking about days a lot recently; how so much can be accomplished and so much wasted in 24 hours. Yom Kippur teaches us the potential of a single day. I wonder how much more I could have done with the last 365 days that flew by if I didn’t let myself be held back by fear and distraction. I marvel at how lives are transformed every day at Mayyim Hayyim. From my office upstairs I hear people singing in celebration of someone becoming Jewish. In the guest book, I read a daily record of people finding strength, healing, and joy; each entry a marker on someone’s spiritual journey.
We’ve recently come up with a way for people to continue to honor their special times; by sponsoring a Day at Mayyim Hayyim. A number of people have already done so; one person chose the day her twin daughters were born. Remembering the day she immersed here after healing, another person is sponsoring multiple anniversaries, and yet another is commemorating a day of family reunification that happened here last year. Underwriting a day of immersions, learning, and operations at the mikveh makes these life-changing moments possible.
These holy days make us realize the transformative power of each day, if we seize it. I hope for all of us that we have a year of fully-realized days.
To sponsor or for more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 617-244-1836 x211.
DeDe is Development Manager at Mayyim Hayyim. She lives in Sharon, MA, with her husband Yaakov and sons Nani and Itai.