(for the Jewish month of Elul, which happens to coincide pretty perfectly with the month of September this year, I’m going to try to blog once a day about one of the themes for the month to prepare for the upcoming Yamim Nora’im or High Holy Days. I will most likely blog in the evenings, so it will technically already be the next day in the Hebrew calendar, but I’m really going to try to keep up with this! you can pop on over to originator Rabbi Phyllis Sommer’s blog for more details about this project.)
it’s interesting that the first thing I have to write about is deciding because it is… not my forte, to say the least. I’m not sure if it’s because I have anxiety about change or because I just find decision-making very emotionally exhausted, so I often struggle to even decide what to eat or wear to work. there is also the fact that, even when I have made a decision, I often struggle to follow-through and complete whatever task I have set ahead for myself. so whether it is a lack of decision or a forgotten decision, this is definitely not a verb that I am very comfortable with.
perhaps that is why this is the word I have to start with as I prepare for the new year—or perhaps it is because deciding is such a big part of my Jewish journey.
around this time seven years ago, I prepared to attend my first High Holy Days ever—right after deciding that conversion to Judaism was the path I wanted to take. a year after that, I prepared to sing with the choir in the High Holy Days and as a Jewish woman—and the run-up to the Yamim Nora’im was, for the next three years, the time I spent rehearsing with my beloved choir. when Rosh HaShanah rolled around each of those years, I was ready for the season of change and excited about the upcoming year.
and then my congregation merged with another, and our group split into different congregations and began living different lives, and I became… disconnected. the holidays after the merge were just heartbreaking; I spent time grieving the loss of the community we’d build and paralyzed by the need to find a new religious home, whether at the merged congregation or not. and then I got married, and I ended up taking my husband to a nearby synagogue for last year’s High Holy Days so that he would get to experience them despite my spiritual homelessness.
okay, that’s all great, but what does it have to do with deciding? you might be wondering. simple: this year, I have decided to, well, decide. I don’t want to go into the High Holy Days feeling like they sneaked up on me, or go another year without a Jewish home. I don’t want to continue feeling disconnected. I don’t want my religion to be a thing my husband can forget about because it’s not a part of our lives. so for this year, I have decided I am going to be prepared for the Yamim Nora’im by the time they roll around, and I am going to have a synagogue membership this year.
so these blog posts will be a way to chronicle this next step in my journey as well as to let me reflect as the new year approaches—but also a way to hold me accountable for following through on the decisions I have made.
as the month goes on, we’ll see just how true to that I manage to be!