Happy New Year


The Jewish holidays are upon us, and I've been struggling with what it looks like to celebrate during the time of Covid. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. We eat apples and honey to make it a sweet one. We commune with friends and family for food and prayer. And, in normal times, we sit shoulder to shoulder in synagogue to hear the sounding of the shofar (ram's horn played like a bugle) and reflect on the past year. In the time of Covid, we'll still eat and pray, but we'll watch the service at home on our screens. Our home has become a classroom, office, gym, yoga studio, dog house and therapy couch. How do we now turn it into a place of worship? Looking back at Passover, when the pandemic began, there was a profound meaning in the lead-in to the four questions, "why is this night different than all other nights"? Obviously, this year it was very different. And the divide between the way we used to be and how we're living now just keeps growing. When Star 94 canceled its morning show and let go of my dear friend Curtis Slade last week, it hadn't occurred to me that their target audience -- moms driving their kids to school -- was living differently and therefore not tuning in. It's been a roller coaster ride accepting all this year has brought and continues to bring, from wildfires raging on the West Coast, a hurricane bearing down on New Orleans, a polarizing election and protests. Yet reflecting on the past six months, sheltering in place brought us gifts we never would have otherwise experienced. We planted a bountiful edible garden, from which we created incredible home-cooked meals every night. We got a puppy! And we talked about everything. For us, family time was generally spent on vacations when our kids were on break from school. So the opportunity to sit down for meals and great conversation every night was truly special and also surreal as the world erupted around us. Rosh Hashanah is this Friday, but up until this past weekend, I was still struggling with how to make my home a holy place. Then I found clarity at the skate park. My temple had sent us a box of food and written materials to help mark the holiday. I scanned the contents, noting the sweets and pretty pictures. Mostly I just thought it was more clutter to take space on the kitchen counter. Then, while at the skate park with my stepdaughter, Cate, I saw my friend Rebecca Safon who told me she had written one of the pieces called "Shelter in Place, Shelter in Peace" about finding and creating a sanctuary in your home. According to Rebecca, we create peace with meaning and intention. She suggests identifying a place, like your dining room, and transforming it to be free of clutter and dedicated to prayer. Add ritual items such as a family heirloom, candles or pictures. And include a touchstone, something that connects you to that place. It's kind of brilliant. And in reading it, something in me shifted. With all the good and not-so-good that's come out of the pandemic, sometimes I find myself paralyzed. Like when I'm half-way to meet a new friend for a walk and realize I've forgotten a mask or see I'm in a situation that doesn't feel socially distant enough, I struggle to find my words. And words matter. Rebecca's words were simple, but they pushed me to open my heart and my home for the holiday. In doing so, I'm ready to welcome the new year and all that it has in store.

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