Seven weeks until Rosh Hashanah

Dear CBI Members and Friends,

We’ve just come through the door of Tisha b’Av, the most grief-soaked day on the Jewish calendar. After Tisha b’Av, the Seven Weeks of Consolation lead us to Rosh Hashanah. Believe it or not, Rosh Hashanah begins seven weeks from tonight.

In the spring, Jewish tradition gives us the counting of the Omer — the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot, liberation and revelation. Now we encounter the year’s other seven-week countdown — the countdown from mourning to renewal, from Tisha b’Av to the Days of Awe.

In seven weeks we’ll convene in the CBI Zoom Room for a Rosh Hashanah evening experience in our own homes. Our erev Rosh Hashanah service will interweave the evening liturgy with some of the Sefardic customs of a Rosh Hashanah seder.

I chose to begin the Days of Awe this year with a seder for a few reasons. One is that seder (unlike Rosh Hashanah services) is a ritual we’re accustomed to doing at home. Thanks to the pandemic, celebrating together on Zoom from home is the best way to keep each other (and ourselves) safe. The seder gives us some tangible, taste-able elements that I hope will help make the evening feel more real.

And, this will be a Rosh Hashanah unlike any other that we’ve ever experienced. I didn’t want to just replicate our usual erev Rosh Hashanah service over Zoom. Instead, we’re embracing the fact that this year is different. It’s an opportunity to try new (or new-to-us) spiritual technologies in service of uplifting our hearts and souls.

Here’s another new (or new-to-us) spiritual technology we’ll be making use of this year: the CBI Board and I are planning to offer a High Holiday Box to members of the CBI community.

This will be a box of holiday supplies — e.g. candles to light on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; symbolic seder foods such as apples and honey, dried dates, and a pomegranate; a Yizkor memorial candle for Yom Kippur; and more — to help each of us have the physical tools we need to help our spirits soar.

If you would like a High Holiday Box, please sign up by filling out this form. The intention is to distribute these in the CBI parking lot shortly before Rosh Hashanah, though stay tuned for updates on that. (If you need us to drop one off for you, you can indicate that on the form, and we’ll do our best to deliver one.) Regardless, we need to know how many people will take us up on this offer, so please sign up if you want a High Holiday box for your household!

I’ll circle back next week with more suggestions for how to make the most of this unprecedented high holiday season.

For now, wishing you all blessings of uplift  —

Rabbi Rachel

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