Sara’s View: Happy 5784th birthday to the world

By Sara Klein Wagner

Sara Klein Wagner, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Louisville and the Trager Family JCC

Happy Birthday to the world: 5784 years and wishing many more. Birthdays can be big occasions, and the birthday for the world deserves to be especially meaningful. 

 I love how one of the most beautiful elements of Jewish life is the Jewish calendar. The flow of Jewish festivals and holidays follows the seasons and provides myriad opportunities to plan and prepare, organize and anticipate.  

Consider how we ready ourselves for a Passover Seder, build a sukkah or make challah. Rosh Hashanah is, literally, the “Head of the Year,” and just a few weeks from now we will gather once again as a community, beginning the 10-day period called the Days of Awe that concludes with Yom Kippur. Together with Jews across the globe, we will rejoice the creation of our world. Rosh Hashanah is also a time when we reflect on the past year and ask others to forgive us for our wrongs. Indeed, there is a tradition of using the Elul – the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah – for cheshbon hanafesh: an “accounting of the soul” — that enables us to appreciate the full resonance of the holiday. 

 As we count down the days of Elul, we can choose to embrace a genuine spirit of renewal, foster personal growth, and appreciate the beauty of the upcoming season’s forgiveness and repentance. Using the month of Elul for personal preparation encourages celebration, contemplation, and meaningful anticipation of our holiday. 

 Besides that personal reflection, it’s also a prime opportunity to make all the above the centerpiece of the holiday: our world, the earth we share, and how we care for its future. There’s no time like the present. So, as we continue during this Elul, let’s recall the steps we took this past year to protect our earth from the damaging effects of climate change, and how we might elevate our care and safeguarding. The climate crisis is too important not to be part of celebrating 5785 years. Every step matters, so perhaps this year you’ll begin using the compost available at the Trager Family JCC, use less air conditioning, or eat less meat. Perhaps you’ll share one of the many PJ Library books about the Jewish value of Shmirat ha-adamah — Care for the Earth — with your children or grandchildren. 

All during Elul, we hear the shofar sounded after most weekday-morning synagogue services These blasts encourage our awakening from the day-to-day rhythms of life, inspiring us to reflect and prepare to receive the blessings of a new year. Happy Birthday to the world and L’shanah Tovah!

Sara Klein Wagner is President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Louisville and the Trager Family JCC



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