Dear WJC Family,
It is hard to believe that this year is coming to a close and the High Holidays are just a couple of months away. 5783 has had triumphs and challenges, excitement for the activities and opportunities opening to us, and anxiety as we ponder the best path forward for us, those we love, and the communities we care about. While every year will have some bumps in the road, we owe it to ourselves to emerge into the new year of 5784 seeking out joy.
Luckily, the Jewish faith has wisdom to share on this topic. As a people who faced many struggles through the millenia, we learned how to grasp onto every spark of happiness and beauty we could find, even in difficult times. In many ways, that’s what Jewish practice, Jewish community, Jewish culture and Jewish faith is all about. In 5784, I encourage all of us to use these Jewish “tools” to find more light in our lives, which is why this year’s High Holiday theme is “Joyful Together!”
Over the past few months, we’ve been working to craft a meaningful High Holiday experience that brings us together in joyful spirit. Your feedback about past services—especially in last year’s survey which had a record number of responses—has guided our creative process. We’re excited to outline the initial information about our High Holiday services and experiences for both adults and children. We’ve adapted many of these experiences based on the perceived needs and desires of the congregation. Please read the following content carefully and respond about your intentions to attend a given service or make use of youth programming and childcare. If anything is unclear or you have questions, please direct them to the office.
In 5783, as part of my ongoing doctoral studies, I had the privilege to study Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His teachings are a treasure trove of wisdom about experiencing happiness and avoiding sadness. One of my favorite teachings of his describes life as a simcha dance. We know that the dancers in the center of the room are full of joy—you can see it on their faces and in every movement. Yet you stay on the outside, stuck there with your fears and shame—what if I’m not a good dancer? What if I embarrass myself?
Eventually a hand reaches out and pulls you into the circle and you’re having a great time until you see your judgment and anxiety still out there mocking you. What do you do then, asks Rebbe Nachman. Do you stop dancing? Heaven forbid! No, you reach out and pull that shame and anxiety and sadness into the circle with you and dance with them too.
This year at WJC, let us each be the hand for each other—the hand that reaches out and brings someone into the dance, into joy. As a kick-off to our “Joyful Together” High Holidays, look for information about our Simcha Friday night service before Rosh Hashanah on Friday, September 8! In the meantime, we are looking forward to bringing the New Year in together —joyful in our faith, joyful in our community… Joyful together!
All service requests must be submitted no later than Sunday, July 16.