Without saying new things, congregations cannot think new thoughts. That seems counterintuitive, but philosophers of language have demonstrated that in order to think, people need a language to frame their thinking. We make progress not by arguing better, but by speaking differently.
From Sacred Strategies, but Aron, Isa, Steven M. Cohen, Lawrence A. Hoffman and Ari Y. Kelman
The last month of the Hebrew calendar year is Elul. Elul signifies that the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, are but a short month away. The change and turnover of a new year is upon us, and all that happened over the last year comes to the forefront of our minds. This is the month in which we spend our time preparing for the High Holidays to come. We hear the shofar daily, chant penitential psalms, and reflect back on our behavior from the year past. The tricky part of atoning for what we have done wrong in the past year, is not to forget to look into the future and see ways in which we can improve ourselves, our families, and our communities.
By looking forward into the year ahead, instead of backwards towards the year which has just passed, we have the unique opportunity to allow our dreams to become more of a reality. We have the opportunity to think differently, speak differently, and behave differently, all of which are able to bring about some wondrous changes.
Change, or even the idea of change, can be a very formidable concept to embrace. Regardless of how small, change always comes with some sort of loss. Change for the right reasons however, can almost always overcome that loss and create something amazing. When we take a logical approach to change and combine it with our passion for our community, our only boundaries are those we set for ourselves.
Kol Ami, over the coming year, will be transitioning in many ways. Jennifer Halls and I will be co-directing the school together. The curriculum has been designed to highlight the strengths of our teachers, and the skills of our students. We have changed the face of the school as well, creating spaces with a purpose, rather than the simple non-imaginative classrooms of the past. I hope over the course of the year, even if you do not have children enrolled in our school, you will come and see what the new Kol Yeladim looks and feels like from the inside out!
This holiday season, as the change of the Jewish calendar year is upon us, I hope we all have the opportunity to embrace the words of Sacred Strategies. As we open our hearts and minds to God to ask for forgiveness for our transgressions, let us also seek permission, from ourselves as well as from God, to think new, imaginative, and beautiful thoughts, and help shape what has the promise of becoming an amazing year. May it be a sweet and good year for everyone.
Cantor Beth Schlossberg