With Rosh Hashanah behind us and Yom Kippur approaching next week, we find ourselves in the middle of Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, or the Ten days of Repentance. These ten days which guide us towards Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, are an opportunity for taking some or our Elul and Rosh Hashanah reflections and putting them into practice. While this can be a busy and hectic time of year for all of us, I love how in line many of these practices are with the work that our homeroom advisors are doing with our students and it is amazing to see these customs come alive in our classrooms and shared spaces.
In his Laws of Teshuvah, Maimonides stresses the importance of doing acts of lovingkindness to and for each other. He notes that when a person does something positive for their fellow person, they bring both themselves and the world towards a place of redemption and salvation. A new highlight of any given day is when I hear a group of students (or sometimes a whole class!) approaching our Citizen Tree in the hallway outside my office. This tree is being filled with leaves which highlight small acts of kindness and contributions that recognize people in our school community. I love that the act of adding leaves to our tree is itself a cause for celebration and something that our students take great pride in recognizing each time!
Another way that we are bringing meaning to these ten days is through our performing the symbolic casting of sins, or Tashlich. Traditionally practiced on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich is a ceremony where we throw our sins (often represented by small pieces of bread or pebbles) into a moving body of water. Since this practice can be observed through the end of the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, Ezra students have for decades gone to a neighboring pond at the Halprin residence to perform this practice as a community.
This year, our seventh and eighth graders added to our liturgy by creating their own small ceremonies to share with the younger students. The ceremonies included activities which ranged from meditation to a ceremonial release of sins using balloons and our 3-4 class even had a surprise celebrity musician make an appearance for a resounding rendition of Avinu Malkenu! Our older students did a wonderful job of crafting these personalized ceremonies and lessons and our preschool students will have a similar opportunity to observe Tashlich tomorrow.
This Shabbat marks Shabbat Shuvah (The Shabbat of Return), the shabbat in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As we move into this special Shabbat and prepare for Yom Kippur, I wish you all a restful weekend, a Shabbat Shalom, and G’mar Chatima Tovah, may you be sealed in the book of life.