Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner’s Rosh Hashanah Message for 2022
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner shares her thoughts and inspiration for the Jewish New Year.
Pivoting is a Jewish value. Our people have historically navigated life’s challenges by finding innovative ways to practice Judaism when disruptive events threatened our existence. Some two thousand years ago, Rabbinic Judaism was born out of the ashes from the destruction of the Great Temple.
As we prepare for Rosh Hashana 5783, we find ourselves heading into the 3rd Holy Day season since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, another year of doing things a bit differently while trying to maintain the integrity of the tradition.
As we move back to more familiar in-person territory, many ask if we will go back to the way, it all was “before”? That’s THE question, should we go back to the way things were B.P. (before pandemic) or do we take the lessons learned and continue to experiment and innovate?
As we have all learned, disruption is scary and going back to what is familiar feels safe. That is why we must remember that the pivot is a Jewish response to surviving the capricious nature of the world.
The Book of Exodus is filled with folks who were redeemed from Egyptian bondage yet kept wanting to go back to Mitzrayim because it was familiar. The uncertainty of what lay beyond the wilderness was frightening. But just imagine how things might have turned out if Moses had given up and made a U-turn with the Israelites? And where would we be today if the rabbis of 70 C.E. had only lamented what was lost instead of creating new and visionary ways of living Jewishly in diaspora?
So, my message coming into this new year, is that while it is not always easy to strike a balance between tradition and innovation, we must continue to embrace the journey forward, seeking all possible ways to fall in love with BEing Jewish.
As we enter 5783 let us dream and explore what our synagogues, our agencies and our Atlanta Jewish community can do even better if we collaborate, build new partnerships, and try bold new ways to explore the many paths to prayer and the cultivation of the soul.
There will be failures for sure, but if we give up trying only to go back to the way we’ve always done things, then we will surely miss out on the sparks of holiness that lay deeply hidden just waiting to be released.
Rabbi Shuval-Weiner is the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell and presently serving as president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.