High Holidays Your Way

12 Sep

sammy1So what exactly are the High Holy Days? Is there a certain way we are supposed to feel? Are we supposed to act a certain way, eat specific things, wear certain attire, be with particular people?

There’s this holy aura cast over what’s known as the Days of Awe. Rosh Hashanah, the 10 days following, and Yom Kippur encompass one of the holiest periods of every Jewish year. Many Jews realize how holy this portion of time is because their rabbi tells them it’s important or because they get to miss school/work for the day. Are we missing the real, spiritual, meaningful point of the Days of Awe?

We feel pressured to have this “moment” where our prayer feels real and there is that noticeable connection between us Jews here on Earth and G-d. Most of us go to services because that’s what our families have always done. This act has become more and more mundane over the years and I believe it is important to take a step back and re-evaluate. Are we really setting ourselves up to succeed (to have our “moment” with G-d) in a traditional temple setting? Are we more comfortable/vulnerable somewhere else? Do we like a traditional style of prayer or one more musical and nuanced? Maybe we’ll experience our “moment” somewhere unexpected, without the pressure to feel a certain feeling, pray a certain way, or be a certain type of person.

It is important to ask ourselves these questions during this special time. We are reinstating our trust in G-d, but this is something that must happen organically. Yes, the High Holy Days do come around once a year, but it is important to cherish these days in whatever way we deem fit. For some that may be an early morning beach run to take in the salty air and breathtaking nature. For others it’s spending the day in services, davening traditionally among peers. For some it’s breaking out of the rut of the daily routine and merely doing something out of the ordinary—going on an adventure to somewhere new or rekindling an old friendship.

Whatever way we chose to take in these Days of Awe and experience them for what they are—a forum for Jews to celebrate the New Year, repent for everything they’ve done wrong in the past year, and come to terms with these sins—the closer the connection Jews will feel to themselves, and in turn, to each other. As we continue through this magical period of time and get ready for Yom Kippur, remember that we are allowed to make our own choices: daven in the way we want to, or not daven at all, wear what we want to, and be with whom we feel closest to.

Sammy Robbins is one of the Joseph J. Edlin Journalism Interns at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

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One Response to “High Holidays Your Way”

  1. sidneyt289@aol.com September 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    How about davening and also working to bring peace and non-violence to the MEast

    Whatever way we chose to take in these Days of Awe and experience them for what they are—a forum for Jews to celebrate the New Year, repent for everything they’ve done wrong in the past year, and come to terms with these sins—the closer the connection Jews will feel to themselves, and in turn, to each other. As we continue through this magical period of time and get ready for Yom Kippur, remember that we are allowed to make our own choices: daven in the way we want to, or not daven at all, wear what we want to, and be with whom we feel closest to.

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