On Erev Rosh Hashanah each member of the WJC Clergy Team shared some thoughts about this year’s High Holy Day theme.
ALEINU, IT’S ON US…
As we approach Aleinu let’s consider its place at the threshold between the sacred time of communal prayer and our release back into the mundane world. As we rise and bow, we declare our intention to bring our uplifted selves back into our daily lives with renewed hope and inspiration.
This year, as the Woodstock Jewish Congregation High Holy Day theme, we place these words forward. What will we stand and commit ourselves to in the new year? Can we approach the seemingly insurmountable edges of our lives, the difficult relationships, health and physical challenges, social injustice, the relentless news cycle, loss and pain, with equanimity rather than anxiety? Aleinu affirms, yes, we can: the world needs our positive energy, and the ideal way forward is together.
Aleinu – “It’s on Us” to take responsibility. Often we think that someone else will be there to take care of us. But as it says in Pirkei Avot: It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at free to neglect it.
Take a look around our immediate community and the larger world – what challenges do you see: Climate change; human rights; war; immigration; voting rights, or protecting many freedoms we have taken for granted – like personal choice or how we believe, pray, and celebrate.
Aleinu. “It is on us” to partner with the Source of Life; our community; and those whom we share this planet with. We must step in and bear some of the responsibility of nurturing, caring, loving teaching, encouraging, and guiding.
Aleinu. It’s on us…to reflect, to take this time to consider our choices about how to live our lives, to make amends as best we can with our family and friends for ways we may have hurt them, even inadvertently, and for deciding how we can act with others to repair the world. Let us work to move from the narrow place of fear and doubt to self-awareness and commitment to working together to repair the world.
Aleinu, it’s on us to make teshuvah, to nurture our connection to divinity. It’s on us to develop personal practices that deepen this connection and make the journey along the way more meaningful, and more fun. It’s on us how we experience the mystery of life unfolding.