A note to parents before Rosh Hashanah

Dear CBI Parents,

It’s hard to believe, but Days of Awe are right around the corner – Rosh Hashanah begins on Wednesday night! I wanted to share a few things — one big-picture, and a few logistical details — with all of the parents in our community.

First, the big-picture piece:

Think about why you come to CBI to celebrate the New Year. Is it because it’s part of your culture and heritage as a Jewish family? Is it to try to connect to the Source of Life? Is it to have a place to ask the big questions of life? Is it to celebrate? There’s an infinite range of answers to this question, but there’s no reason to start with the old parental fall-back, “Because we have to.”

You don’t have to – there are always other things you and your family could choose to do with your time. (You could be watching tv, climbing a mountain, folding laundry — and this year, since Rosh Hashanah falls on weekdays, during the days you could be at work and your kids could be in school.)

If you choose to come to shul for the Days of Awe — and I really hope that you will! — let it be because you want to. I hope that your kids will want to as well. If you want to explore for yourself what the holidays could mean, one of my favorite books for this purpose is Rabbi Alan Lew’s This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, which you can nab for your Kindle or order now for holiday reading — or you can borrow from the CBI library anytime. Or of course, feel free to call or visit me, and I’m happy to natter about the holidays and why they matter, anytime.

Now on to some logistical details:

We’re going to have family programming on the first morning of Rosh Hashanah (Thursday, September 5) and on Yom Kippur morning (Saturday, September 14.) On both of those days we will have childcare in the classrooms from 9:30am until around noon (services should end around noonish.) We’ll also offer childcare in the classrooms during Kol Nidre services, which begin at 6pm on Friday September 13 (with cello music beforehand at 5:30.)

15420MThis year we will also have wonderful childrens’ services at 10am on each of those days (Rosh Hashanah first day, and Yom Kippur) led by Jane Shiyah. She will be leading the children through a service which will feature short prayers, songs, a lot of wonderful storytelling, and even an opportunity to learn to blow shofar (and an opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the shofar, too!) These services will be geared toward the students who are there. Our beautiful new childrens’ machzorim (high holiday prayerbooks) were written for kids in first through sixth grade, but Jane is comfortable adapting the written service to suit the needs of whoever is present on those mornings.

Please also know that your children are welcome in the big sanctuary anytime you want to have them there. I will announce, at the start of every service, that the voices of children are always welcome in our house of worship. (And they are!) Your kids are always welcome. And it’s wonderful for them to have the experience of being part of our community as we enter into prayer, self-reflection, and celebration together.

I especially invite you to try to ensure that your kids are present when we blow shofar. That will happen during the shofar service (late on Rosh Hashanah morning) and at the very end of Ne’ilah (the service closing Yom Kippur.) The shofar is a dramatic, powerful, primal sound, and if your kids hear it blown in context, they will begin associating its sound with this special time of year.

Thanks for being part of CBI. Your families are a big part of the joy of serving this community, for me, and I’m always grateful to know you and your children.

L’shanah tovah / here’s to a good and sweet new year —

Rabbi Rachel

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