When I entered my son’s school few weeks ago, a big sign was hanging on the wall and it said in bright colors, “Welcome Back!” I was glad to be in a familiar place but at the same time, I felt that I am a stranger to this place. The walls were painted with a different colors; there were new faces at the front office. My son himself has changed since his last school year, he grew taller, and is focusing on new hobbies, as many kids who are back from the summer might be.
What is the meaning of returning to something? How can we go back to a moment that has already passed? What is the meaning of feeling anew? And can we hold these two concepts together, even though they seem contradicting to one another? I would suggest that this relates to our ability to look at ourselves and be dynamic.
These ideas are of the key ideas for the High Holidays that are coming up. Our Jewish tradition teaches us that even though it seems that life is going in one direction, from childhood to maturity, we always have the opportunity, or rather, the obligation, to go back and return, to places, to times that were in our past, and give them a new meaning.
This is the notion of Tshuva – return, which is the key element of the Day of Repentance. Welcoming us back in our mind to a place we have already been while revisiting it with fresh new eyes, eyes who have learned from the past and are now wiser. Jewish tradition holds in itself this idea of returning and renewing simultaneously, when we read in the book of Lamentations: Take us back, o God, to yourself, and let us come back; renew our days as of old” (5:21)
If we read this verse carefully, we find that importance of our soul as dynamic and reflective. Our memory is live and dynamic. Part of the understanding of return is that we shape our ideas of the past through new lens when we review it again. Think about an event that happened to you this year, how did you think about it a week after the event and how are you viewing it now.
This ability to look back also demands us for a self-reflection and awareness. The first part of the repentance process is owning our actions and being able to face them. as we all know, it is not necessarily an easy task.
When we enter the JCC nowadays, a big sign of welcome appears on the wall. This is a welcome sign for the new Gems – Hub for Older Adults program. This program is to some extent an old program of the JCC that went into a different direction and is now returning to the JCC. Now, that we have completed the merge and we are part of the new JCC team, I ask myself, what are the new concepts that we are bringing to the JCC and what are we returning to the JCC and carrying as our history and memory.
I encourage you to think about your own idea of returning. What has changed for you this previous year and how do you currently view it. Whether it’s at home, at work or when you enter the JCC. How can you learn from this year to make the next year better and to appreciate the last year. If you want to share your ideas regarding the JCC, we would love to hear from you!
I look forward to engage with you in conversations. Develop together a language of returning and renewing of our JCC
Rabbi Moriah SimonHazani, CPO