Rosh Hashanah begins this Sunday night, and Yom Kippur starts the evening of Oct. 4.
You don’t have be an observant Jew to feel the shift. As humans, we are sensitive to all changes in our environment. And, in many ways, this summer’s dose of humility – increased world antisemitism, Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and COVID-19’s continued threat – served as an elongated Days of Awe. It’s a reminder that despite all of our planning, and intention, nothing in life is promised.
Not even the truth, which is now a central issue facing humanity. Because we spend so much of our time online, the Internet now serves as the central disseminator of all information.
This contentious platform often brings antisemites, conspiracists, racists, and xenophobes under the same umbrella as corporate and political interests. Those who fund larger campaigns of disinformation seek to disrupt the daily news cycle and let mainstream Americans argue it out while they seek more profits, working the backrooms of Washington to create legislation protecting their interests.
The Days of Awe are a period of reflection during which we judge ourselves, and are judged by our Creator. They offer an opportunity to disengage from this misinformation, and allow us to focus on ourselves and our commonalities rather than our differences. We all have a finite amount of time on this earth, and the High Holidays remind us of this fact. And our sages have guided us on how to create a better world during these days and throughout the year: Teshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah, or repentance, prayer and charity, can avert the severity of the decree.
If one is willing, there is much to reflect upon during these days in September. As we shift from the warm winds to the cooler days, let us contemplate the miracle of life, and connection and love. Each day we have a new opportunity to help create a new world. Whether you’re observant or not, this is a good period to ponder our role in making the earth a better place.