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Days of Awe: A Moment of Reflection Hidden among the Hecticness

For many, the month leading up to this year’s Rosh Hashanah has been a destabilising experience with concerns about climate-change, social polarisation and the rising costs of living only exacerbated by the passing of the Queen and changes in our political leadership. In addition to these, each of us will have particular concerns weighing on our minds and vying for our attention. Even more challenging perhaps is to look toward the future, considering our next steps on an unknown path.

Though our time leading up to the High Holy Days may be anything but static, the chagim (festivals) themselves try to provide us with moments of pause and reflection. How are we, so caught up in the whirlwind of change, supposed to enter this space of contemplation?

As a relatively new rabbi, only three months into my first rabbinic post and busily preparing for the festive period, I long for a moment to calmly consider the past year and my hopes for the future. Yet, the likelihood is that life will continue at great speed and so calm’s visit, should it come at all, will be fleeting at best.

Perhaps this is why Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur see so many of us attend synagogue. In community, together with others, life’s hecticness feels a little more manageable. Individually our concerns and stresses may feel overwhelming, but with friends, family and the company of others, we take strength from our collective humanity and faith.

On Rosh Hashanah each of us will embrace our own new year but knowing that we do this together helps ground me at this important moment –  a period of reflection and looking ahead.

Wishing you and your community SHANA TOVA UMETUKAH – a good and sweet year.

Rabbi David Yehuda Stern was ordained on 3 July 2002, and serves as Rabbi at Radlett Reform Synagogue

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