Pre-Rosh Hashanah Message from Tilly
Shana Tova everyone. Happy, healthy new year.
Even looking into this screen, I feel like I should start with “How are you?” I feel like every time I see someone these days, I am not just asking how are you, but I’m asking “how are you really?” “how is your family?” “how is this time impacting you?”. I start every conversation this way to the point that it has become routine. And then, a friend responds that she’s lost a family member due to COVID. How can we not stop to ask the question, acknowledge the moment, and be with each other on this journey.
For so much of these last months we have been separated from one another. The month of Elul that we are now finishing is known as the beginning of our process of reflection and teshuvah, turning inward to the self-work we need to do over this holiday. It is said that we start the month as if we are achor-el-achor – back-to-back with each other, but during the month, we begin to turn so that by the time we reach Rosh Hashanah, we are panim-el-panim – face to face – perhaps with God, perhaps with each other, perhaps with ourselves.
I believe that this, this time on campus, this time in our year, this time in COVID, this is the time for us to be panim-el-panim – face to face – with one another. We may be seeing each other through computer screens, through masks, through six feet of distance. We at Hillel want you to know we see you. We see you and we hear you and we are here for you.
In this time of distancing, we are calling on all of us to find ways to be panim-el-panim this season. There are so many ways you can do that through Hillel during this holiday.
When I think of who we are as a community, right now on this campus, I think of the blasts of the shofar – the long blast of Tekiyah, the 3 short blasts of Sh’varim, and the quick, staccato blasts of T’ruah.
- We start with Tekiyah. It is this moment that grounds us – that we stand grounded in who we are. It represents those moments to ourselves, moments of reflection, moments to do inner work. We can take a walk in the arb listening to the self-guided tashlich ceremony recorded by Rav Lisa. Sit in your bedroom listening to one of our holiday sermons. Go for a run to be panim-el-panim – face to face – with yourself and consider what you need to get out of this holiday.
- The short blasts of Sh’varim makes me think of how we have to break out into small groups to gather. Perhaps it’s the small group you’ll have Rosh Hashanah dinner with, or the groups that will gather to hear the shofar, or the group that will clean up the Huron River in our Reverse Tashlich program. Through these small groupings you can find ways to be panim-el-panim with each other in a safe way and find your community, your people on campus.
- And lastly, the staccato, trumpet blasts of t’ruah. I’ve been thinking of this image a lot because it best summarizes our time on campus right now. We are scattered and dispersed all across this campus – in our dorm rooms, apartments, quiet spots in the library, coffee shops, on the Diag. We are camping out in our spaces. We are scattered but we’re still connected – whether it’s zooming in to a service or joining me in our virtual spiritual bootcamp or making Rosh Hashanah Resolutions with others online – we will see each other – panim-al-panim – through the screen and be a community.
I believe through all of this, we come together like tekiyah gedolah – as a kehillah gedolah – one great big community – connected in real life and virtually; individually and in small groups. We may feel apart, but we are all here for one another.
So please, use this time to connect with the holiday, connect with yourself, and connect with us. Our staff are serious when we say we see you, we hear you, we’re here for you. Take us up on our offer for coffee and meet with us. Tell us what you need. Only together will we be a kehillah gedolah – the great big Jewish community that we are at Michigan.
Shana Tovah and Go Blue.