This is a very exciting time of year. Although the temperature is still very hot… summer is over. Recent family trips and vacations, afternoons spent at the swimming pool, summer camp, and periods of relaxing time are now only a memory. Now is when we begin gearing up for a very busy part of our year. Kids have returned to school and have gotten settled into the routine they will have for the next nine months.
We also have entered a very stressful time of year as well… and I love it. Of course, I am talking about the final push of the baseball season as teams are jockeying for a spot in this year’s playoffs. As I am writing this, it looks like the LA Dodgers will inevitably be playing baseball in October, much to the dismay of this life-long SF Giants fan. But I digress.
Recently I realized that the final month of the baseball season is very much like how Jews have traditionally looked at the month of Elul… the month that leads up to Rosh Hashanah and the start of the High Holy Days.
Just like in baseball when teams begin to evaluate and tweak their team to make sure they have the right players on it for the final few weeks and for the playoffs, we are told to begin to take inventory of how we were during the past year. Were we the best us we could be? Did our actions reflect our true intentions? Were we the type of spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc. that we would like to have been this past year? Were there things that we could have done differently?
This is our final push before our individual (and collectively, the Jewish community’s) playoffs…the High Holy Days.
I would encourage all of us to make sure we take some time these next few days, leading up to September 29, Erev Rosh Hashanah, to reflect on our year. If you feel that there were things you could have and should have done differently, perform teshuvah, make amends to do it differently next time. And if, during your reflection, you realize that you offended or hurt someone, either through your words or deeds, apologize and ask for their forgiveness.
While the baseball playoffs really have no impact on our everyday life, I promise you, the effort you put in prior to the High Holy Days will.
On an entirely different note, I wanted to share with you something the Jewish Federation does twice a year on behalf of our community. Every January, and again in August. I send a letter to all of our local school district Superintendents to remind them of when the High Holy Days are, and to share an 8-year calendar of the holidays. The letter reminds them that their district’s Jewish students and faculty may be out of school on those days to celebrate the holidays and that according to California Education Code they are not to be penalized for observing the holidays. I ask that they share these dates with their respective school principals to ensure that the students’ absences are considered excused and given enough time to make up the work that they miss. I also ask that they share the calendar so they could be aware of the dates for subsequent years and avoid scheduling important school/district events that conflict with the holidays.
Remember, the Jewish Federation is here to help if any conflicts arise due to a scheduling conflict pertaining to people observing the High Holy Days.
L’shana tova to you and your entire family. May 5780 be a year of good health, happiness, joy and peace for all of us.
JASON MOSS is executive director of the Jewish Federation of the GREATER san gabriel and pomona valleys.