October 26, 2022

Carrying the Spirit Forward

As the last of the fall holidays winds down, we have to wait two months until Hanukkah.

If you attended services or had festive meals with family over Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, did you feel renewed, inspired, recommitted to Jewish practice? I think this happens for lots us.

[Conversely, some people feel more alienated. We’ll talk about that next week, because it can be a powerful letdown.]

Establishing new traditions

If you do want to rededicate yourself to a new tradition, how could you go about it?

You could choose just one addition to your weekly routine that would fill your spirit. Of course, attending services more regularly might be the best choice for you.

But there are lots of others paths. Here are some that might work for you:

Donate to a charity of your choice once a week.  Here’s one to consider. You could even make a super simple tzedakah box for this purpose.

Buy a beautiful new mezuzah and say the blessings as you put it up.

Find a piece of Jewish music that you like and learn to play it on your instrument; guitar chords and piano music are easy to find for many popular songs. Or just buy a CD of Jewish or Israeli music that you pop in every Friday night to create atmosphere. Here are just a few of my favorites.

  • Debbie Friedman, with her soul-filling songs “And You Shall Be a Blessing” and “Mi Shebeirach.”
  • Authentic Israeli Folk Songs and Dances with a wonderful rendition of Hora Medura that pretty much makes you get up and dance.
  • And Neil Sedaka’s Brighton Beach Memories, with his stirring Shein Vi Di L’Vone.

Establish a new tradition of hiking on Shabbat with family or friends, away from computers and washing machines, enjoying nature.

Sign up for a blog that inspires you.  Here are three of the many choices:

  • Rabbi Yael Levy’s A Way In Blog  
  • Ann White’s Creating Calm Within Chaos   
  • Rabbi Jonathan Freirich‘s blog


My Commitment

What am I going to do? Work harder at unplugging over Shabbat. I give myself an F for the past 10 months. But the two Shabbatot (yes, only two, really) where I followed the spirit of the day, for the whole day, were so energizing and relaxing and spiritual.  And I have 52 opportunities a year to try to improve.

I’m also going to commit myself to baking at least one challah.  I hear it’s not so hard. We’ll see . . .

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