The Hebrew month of Tishrei — October this year — is a time when we, as Jews, look at the world, from an inward and outward perspective. Beginning with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and concluding with Yom Kippur, we engage in soul-searching and inner reflection on how we want to live our lives.
On the heels of these holidays comes Sukkot. As we gather to eat and sleep in sukkahs, we find ourselves immersed in the natural world, and I am reminded of its centrality to Judaism. When the month ends with Simchat Torah and we celebrate the conclusion of the reading of the Torah and its starting over, we rejoice in the ongoing cycle of our Jewish faith.
This year, as I celebrate the Jewish holidays, I find myself inspired by these Jewish values. I take stock of my role in my family and in my community and commit to becoming a better person and Jew.
Here are a few of my personal thoughts as we journey through the fall holiday cycle.
> We are stronger together. As Jews, we are a minority. Our strength lies in our ability to work together to be a stronger and more effective whole. Think of the stick analogy. One stick and it breaks easily. But put the same stick alongside 10 others and it is unbreakable due to its collective strength, support and sustenance. What we share together is far greater than what we have separately.
> Look for the positive. Negativity has the power to harm, to stymie us in our ability to create change. Only when we see our problems as surmountable and when we find the positive in the challenges can we thoughtfully and creatively set out to make our world a better place.
> Life is shaped by the choices we make. We all have choices. What to do with our time, how we choose to live and give. If we want to make life better for our people, we must make wise, visionary and impactful choices. When we give financially, whatever we can, in ways that reflect our values, we are influencing our community’s future. When we commit an hour, a week, a month or a year to volunteering in our schools, our senior centers, our cities, our agencies, we begin to change so many lives, including our own.
This year, as I serve as chair of the board of The Associated, I am reminded that these principles are integral to the organization’s work. And I see The Associated as a gateway where we can accomplish so much by working together in ways that respect and honor our Jewish values.
I hope you will join me. L’Shana Tova.
Linda A. Hurwitz is chair of the board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.