"The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires unites people from many congregations and communities across the Berkshires of one faith, bound together by a common sacred cause"
By Elisa Schindler Frankel / President, Jewish Federation of the Berkshires
The Yamin Nora-im (High Holy Days) from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is the sacred cycle in the Jewish calendar I most welcome. While I consider Shabbat to be equally holy to Yom Kippur and relish in the weekly rituals of Sabbath observance, these ten Days of Awe give me a rare and special gift – time set aside to turn within.
I rejoice, reflect, and take responsibility for my actions on Rosh Hashanah, but it is the solemnness of Yom Kippur that resonates with me most, as I truly repent, forgive others, and atone. For me, it is always important to worship through Neilah (closing service), which I do each year with a great sense of urgency. The Gates of Heaven have been kept open to receive my final prayers and supplications. My fear is always that the Gates will close before I have truly repented and that I will not be inscribed and sealed into the Book of Life, even though I have been taught that the Gates do not close until the seventh day of Sukkot and that the Gates are always open to the truly repentant.
People come together as a community to observe the High Holy Days for a wide variety of reasons. We pray together not just as individuals, but as Jews. For me, it is not only my deep belief in the precepts of Judaism that draw me in, but also the three pillars of this cycle: Teshuva (Turning), Tefilla (Prayer) and Tzedakah (Righteousness). One of the most meaningful ways we mark this cycle is through “tzedakah” – charitable actions aimed at breaking the poverty cycle and enabling those less fortunate to establish themselves as independent and productive members of our community.
Much like the congregations during the High Holy Days, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires unites people from many congregations and communities across the Berkshires of one faith, bound together by a common sacred cause. Your participation and support give our organization the strength it needs to move forward throughout the year.
We are a strong and thriving organization today in no small measure because of each one of you. We, as an organization, benefit from the many rich gifts of heart and mind that you bring to our work.
I feel honored and privileged that, through my service as president of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, I can put the most important themes of the Jewish New Year into action – including learning from the past in order to shape the future; maintaining a strong sense of community and family; and upholding common values and teachings.
From my home to yours, wishes for a Shanah Tovah (Sweet New Year) and Gmar Chatimah Tovah (A Good Final Sealing).
Elisa Schindler Frankel is president of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires