rosh hashanah reflection

As the canary birds of history, Jews will pray this year not only for blessings for our people but for a world that we have all too clearly seen inevitably shares our fate.
The month and days preceding the Jewish High Holidays are when we do what is called a heshbon nefesh: an accounting of the soul. We talk to the folks we may have had challenges with in the past year and we strive to make amends -- to ask for forgiveness.
In the Torah, we are first introduced to the term Hineni when we read about Akedat Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac, in Chapter 22 of Genesis. When God calls out to Abraham, prior to commanding him to sacrifice his son, Abraham responds, "Hineni."
We all wear masks. We wear a mask to hide our self-perceived faults and weakness: the mask of certainty when we are shaken, the mask of gregariousness when we might be shy the mask of humor when we're hurting, the mask of a victim when we're not.
We are not born in sin; we are each born with powerful tendencies to both good and evil and the drama of human character is in the struggle and balance between the two. The corrective mechanism is teshuva, repentance.
Tashlik, the casting away of regrets, is by far our favorite new year tradition. It surpasses the big meal and the white clothes, the honey cake and the days off from school. I wouldn't have it any other way. Here's why.
We live out our lives in intricate webs of human interaction and connection. The journey towards forgiveness and reconciliation with others is not a minor detail of this auspicious season. It is at the very heart of what the Jewish High Holy Days are all about.
My son Jacob has been playing the Spice Girls 1996 hit "Wannabe" a lot lately. In a flash, the connection between the song and preparation for Rosh Hashanah came to me a few nights ago.
Next week marks the start of the High Holidays for the Jewish faith. We explore what this means for Judaism, but also look into the ways other cultures and religions mark significant moments in time. Why do holidays matter?
I don't want Rosh Hashanah to be something I need to deal with. I want it to be a day I look forward to, a time of connection and renewal, a time when I can find my grounding in Judaism after a summer away from services and Hebrew school and with very few Jewish holidays.