This time of year in the Jewish faith is always chock-full of holy days. We have just celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. There is not a giant ball that descends from the ceiling with “5783” on it like December 31 in Times Square. (We have entered the year 5783, according to the Jewish calendar.) Rather, it is a time for personal reflection and connection to spirituality. While it is a time to spend with family and friends, it also marks the start of the Ten Days of Awe — ten days leading up to the holiest of holy days, Yom Kippur. It is the Day of Atonement.
During these Ten Days of Awe, we are supposed to go through a lot of self-reflection. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and we teach that on this day, G-d decides who is to be written in the Book of Life for the coming year and who will not. It is pretty serious stuff. Some have called Yom Kippur not only the Day of Atonement, but Judgement Day.
What is the Game Plan During the Ten Days of Awe?
In these Ten Days of Awe, we must commit to changing our behavior. We also ask forgiveness from the people we have wronged. There is a phrase that we repeat (over and over) on Yom Kippur — “…but Repentance, Prayer and Charity mitigate the severity of the Decree.”
Even when we are being judged from above, our faith tells us to be charitable. Time and time again, I find great solace in my faith as a fundraiser. It is literally engrained in our basic beliefs. At the core of Judaism is the idea that as an important part of being a Jew, it is our responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. While the New Year may be sweet for us, there are many for whom it is not. So, while we can — and should — celebrate the New Year, we cannot forget those who are less fortunate.
There is a lot of work for me to do, improving on a personal level, but I think of it as a continuum. I strive to be a better person tomorrow than I was yesterday. But at the core of my belief on Yom Kippur is the belief that through my actions, prayer and charity, I will merit to be written into the Book of Life.
So, if I have wronged you, knowingly or unknowingly, please accept my sincere apologies.
It is fully my intention to keep growing as a person.
L’shana Tova (and, of course, l’chaim).