WAKING UP WITH OUR JEWISH FRIENDS

“Blessed are you, L-rd, our G-d, Sovereign of the universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season. Amen.” – Shehecheyanu Blessing*

This week begins the new year of Rosh Hashanah for Jewish friends in our community. And while Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year,” this holy season is always celebrated during the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Which tells us that this new year is of a different sort. Instead of rotating to the next cycle of 365-ish days, the Jewish people tie the head of the year back to creation and that first breath of life. It is in those terms that people of faith are told to “WAKE UP!” with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) over 100 times.

Waking up to a new calendar year can seem trivial and ho-hum. Maybe a renewed sense of commitment and purpose finds its way into that day. But, if our waking up is tied to humanity and the very essence of our being, perhaps the day garners more significance. If it is spent contemplating the dust and spirit from which we are made, the day just may emerge as life-changing.

With waking up, our Jewish sisters and brothers set sights on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, early next week. As this day approaches, the faithful cast off the burden of sin onto Almighty G-d, seeking to live into the purity of creation.

In the Chaplain’s blog last week, we engaged beginnings and endings, noting the presence of the holy in every transition of life. But here we are, nearly four weeks into school, no longer at the beginning of our new year. Perhaps you have caught your stride, falling into a rhythm that is healthy and manageable. Or, you may have had just enough time to become overwhelmed, wondering how to balance social life with academic rigor, along with all of the incredible extracurricular opportunities afforded at Berkeley Preparatory School. Either way, Rosh Hashanah offers unique perspective on newness – even in the midst of a year that is well underway.

In that spirit, may we all stop long enough to acknowledge our Creator. Let us take a moment to re-connect with our humanity. And turn inward to dust and spirit – casting our burdens onto a G-d that is merciful and just. In doing so, we just may be able to take a deep breath of new life.

*The Shehecheyanu Blessing is first recited following the lighting of candles to begin the holiday celebration of Rosh Hashanah.


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Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory day school located in Tampa, FL, for boys and girls in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Approximately 1,380 students gather here from the greater Tampa Bay area to form ONE Berkeley.