The High Holydays call us home to community. Rarely has this been so literally true as now. Covid and lockdown have kept us from loved ones, friends and the congregations in which we’ve studied Torah, prayed and marked the seasons of our Jewish lives.
The shofar’s cry calls us back to embrace our Judaism together. After difficult times, wrote the Rebbe of Slonim, we must receive the Torah anew. The struggles of the past eighteen months have challenged our hearts, making us appreciate life differently and deepening our values.
At their core is community itself. We’ve relearnt how much we need each other. We’ve WhatsApped, Zoomed, phoned, stood two metres apart in doorways, – and longed for when we can finally hug our friends. Neighbourhood and congregation are our strength; we need them and they us. The High Holydays remind us that together we are more resilient, practically and spiritually.
We’ve participated in wider circles of community too. We’ve experienced our dependence on many who’re often undervalued: medical personnel, carers, shop staff, the people who deliver parcels, drive busses and collect our recycling and rubbish. We’ve witnessed how inequalities made lockdown harder for many. The High Holydays are a call for solidarity and social justice.
They require us, too, to re-evaluate our place in nature. The coming months bring two immensely important international gatherings, COP 15 on biodiversity and COP 26 on the climate emergency. Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of creation, celebrates the wonder of God’s world and Yom Kippur calls us to live in harmony with the community of all life.
Leshanah Tovah, may the coming year be good and inspire us to do good.
Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Click here to read the Rosh Hashana message from Masorti Judaism’s co-chairs.