The High Holidays are in effect, our Jewish prime time. Once a year, Jews worldwide stop their normal course of life and assemble for a period of unity, celebration, reflection and renewal. Though some of the central elements of the High Holidays originate from the ancient rituals that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem, the High Holiday season has evolved over the centuries as a universal, territory-neutral and all-inclusive experience. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are – the Jewish approach allows you to practise and reflect on the meaning of the year that has just ended, embrace the New Year and its consequences, and revisit fundamental moral and personal questions.
The Jewish tradition supplies us with rich inspiring tools to elevate the experience: masterful liturgical creations, the blowing of the Shofar, the Tashlich (the symbolic deposit of our sins in the ocean), fasting on Yom Kippur, the Sukkah and more. Add to that the lively family gathering, the good food and the power of communal solidarity.
But here is the catch: All those wonderful elements can become routine and trivialised. Year in and year out, we are predisposed to follow the manual that tells us what to do and causes us at times to forget the deep meaning behind the texts and the rituals.
It is with this in mind, and our aim to add to the cultural life of our community, that we at +61J are proud to present a supplement for the 2017 High Holidays. We bring you a collection of ten short essays reflecting on values and motifs of the High Holidays. Our contributors come from the United States, Israel and Australia. They were asked to choose elements of the season – based on texts or rituals – and reflect on the ancient through a contemporary prism and their own thinking. The items are relevant, thought-provoking and call for action.
We hope that you will find this short anthology enriching and inspiring, together with the timeless traditions that you practise.
We wish you all a good and meaningful year: Shana Tova שנה טובה.
Graphic Design: Shira Halberstadt, Studioishi.com.au
Illustrations: Doron Briner, yentelstudio.com