Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happy New Year -- L'Shanah Tovah

To all of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah -- L' Shanah Tovah.

I wish you and your families a prosperous, happy, and healthy new year filled with renewal and forgiveness.

The start of Rosh Hashanah is my favorite time of the year. It was this time nearly 15 years ago that I found a temple with amazing rabbi's and cantor's in New York City that opened me up to spiritual connection and appreciation for Judaism in a way that I had always hoped for myself. As a result, I was fortunate to open my mind, and my heart, to a new found connection that will forever be with me.

I grew up learning Judaism in the eyes of my parents. While I was taught a great deal, the emotional and spiritual connection did not come for me until I was an adult. However, I have my parents to thank for keeping religion a part of my life and showing me what my family's history and heritage was all about.

Therefore, as a parent, my goal is to lead Sarah on a path filled with knowledge and understanding to help her find her way and an emotional connection to Judaism when the time is right, and when she is mature enough to understand and embrace.

What I most love about this holiday is that it's like a restart button. You look at the past year of life and reflect on what you did, what you said, who you harmed physically or with words, what you did for your community, and the way you treated yourself.

The latter took me a while to understand.

We often hear the phrase that we must love ourselves before we can love others fully. This couldn't be truer. While we may not love everything about ourselves it is this time of year to forgive ourselves for being so hard on ourselves and give ourselves a break.

This is a lesson that regardless of religion should be taught to children so that they can grow into confident adults.

I know all too well that it is easy to hard on oneself. However, in order to admit, then forgive and move past it, you will always be stuck. And, we are human. We may not love everything about ourselves, but we can certainly be nicer to ourselves.

While many look at the World's New Year in January as the time for reflection and new beginnings, as Jewish people that time is now.

From last year's blog post on Mommy's Point of View I said, "It is a significant time dedicated to reflection, thoughts for change, memories of the past personally and historically, and commitment and plans for fresh starts personally, professionally, and in local, national and global communities. It's also a time for family gatherings, special meals and sweet tasting foods, especially apples and honey to celebrate this joyous New Year."

Further, "Jewish people commit to resolutions, but don't call them resolutions. For example, wanting to lose weight, quit smoking or start exercising are important life-altering behavioral changes, but on this holiday our commitments run deeper and involve change that centers on righting the wrongs we have done to others, and to ourselves, and to establish new paths for growth, change and Jewish learning moving forward. It's as if we get to the meaning behind how we feel, the anger we have against ourselves, and the emotional and physical commitment to make a change."

Therefore, it is my job to look in the mirror to be honest with myself, be happy for whom I am and who I have become, and to be the parent I am and wish to be, and to love me. It is also time for change all around. It could be getting more involved in your community, starting a new career path, making a new friend, apologizing to someone for how they have been treated, or asking yourself for forgiveness and starting a new.

As parents we have a great responsibility to help educate our children about religion, traditions, values, and history to help them start on the path to their own spiritual connection.

I look forward to educating Sarah on the traditions I grew up with and have fostered into adulthood, and creating new memories with her to have for years to come.

To all of us who are Jewish and celebrate this New Year, I wish you a sweet and joyous year, prosperity, love, happiness and, most importantly, good health.

Happy New Year. L'Shanah Tovah.

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