On the Jewish calendar, this time of year is called the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe. Over the past couple days, beginning the evening of Sept. 4, Jews around the world marked the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar, the year 5774, with the holiday of Rosh Hashana — literally, the head of the year. It began a period of intense reflection and soul-searching, the 10 days that occupy the space from the first of the year to the most solemn day — Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. While Rosh Hashana is a joyous day to mark another year, it also calls us to question the past year, to set intentions for the coming year and inspires us to reach out to those we may have hurt or wronged in some way. There are many explanations for why this intense period of reflection is called the Days of Awe. And, living here in Lake Tahoe, we certainly have many days filled with awe, just enjoying the splendor and beauty of the natural world is always one step out our front door.
Yet, I think there is one particular component to this season in the Jewish tradition that warrants this name. For me, it is the communal nature of both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is the reality that our Jewish tradition calls on us, charges us to do this work of atonement, of repentance, in the context of community. I am in awe of the public, and often therefore more difficult, setting in which we engage in what might be considered a private act — reflection, introspection and repentance. On Yom Kippur, many Jews around the world spend many hours fasting, in synagogue praying and with traditional study. And yet, this is all done in the context of community. I look forward each year to seeing my entire Temple Bat Yam family gather and to welcoming visitors to our beautiful area to mark this sacred occasion. As we enter this period, I am in awe of what the synagogue I am honored to serve, Temple Bat Yam, has accomplished in thirty years here on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, sharing Judaism with our community and with those spending time in South Lake Tahoe.
We invite you to share in our holiday observance. Our services are open to all. A full schedule of service times, events and programs is always available on our website: www.tbytahoe.org.