Jew in the suburbs

Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur: The Call to Self-Improvement



Hello Blog Readers,


We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, which means that I and many others are gearing up for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Repentance.  Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the month of Tishrei which is next month and Yom Kippur is 10 days later, on the tenth of Tishrei.  Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, Rosh Hashanah is one holiday and Yom Kippur is another holiday, both are relatively short, so why, would one need a whole month to prepare?  In short Rosh Hashanah is about a new year, and a new year is a new beginning with new opportunities. Yom Kipper, again in short, is about making repentance for those things one did not do to the best of their ability, or didn’t do at all the year before.  It is about repenting for the mistakes made the previous year.  Any accomplishment a person achieves is made because they went through a process. 


Preparation for a New Year and Repentance is the same as preparation in order to achieve any goal.   One needs to go through a process to achieve the goal.  Elul gives people the opportunity to prepare for both Repentance and a fresh start.


Elul is a special time for self improvement.  The month of Elul can seem daunting to anyone; there are countless classes, books, and articles on the subject.  If you are looking for these things during this time of year, they can be found everywhere.  As human beings, we can’t read every single book, or attend every single class as we can only be in one place at one time.  However, we as human beings can and are expected to do our best.  Although, the call for self improvement may seem the most frightening of all goals because it involves, we humans looking deep into ourselves, the goal is worth having and worth achieving.  If you speak to someone who has just accomplished a goal, such as graduating from school, you will notice that the person is not just happy and satisfied because the school is at an end, the person is happy and satisfied because of the work they did in order to achieve that graduation.  The work is the process.  It is the process that makes a person feel that they have done something important.  If a person wouldn’t graduate without a lot of preparation, why would a person go into Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur without preparation?


The call to self improvement may be loud   and difficult, but in my opinion, answering the call is one of the deepest expressions of love for yourself, for those around you and for G-d.  Many people would make the excuse that they are too busy and don’t have enough time for self improvement. The month of Elul gives a person that time.  A time to evaluate yourself and decide what it is you really want for yourself out of life.  Finding this out allows you to know yourself better. Personally, when I feel I know myself better, I feel closer to G-d.  In my opinion, this process improves my relationship with G-d and from my personal experience; self improvement makes me a happier person.


  What do you want out of life? What areas of life would you like to improve? What parts of yourself would you like to change for the better? What did you do last year that you want to do better this year? What are your goals for your new opportunity for a new beginning? I ask that you examine the answers to these questions as  I am examining  them.  Once you have an idea ask G-d for what it is you want. If you don’t know ask that G-d help you figure it out. Remember G-d is Compassionate. HE listens to prayer, and the month of Elul is a special time for prayer.  


 May all of you have a meaningful Elul and a beautiful and happy New Year!

Rochelle Krich book suguestion
September 2, 2008, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Authors, Jewish, Jewish, Rochelle Krich | Tags: , , ,



I love to read. One of my favorite authors is Rochelle Krich. I went to her web site and found that she shared information I would like to share with you. Another book from the Series, Small Miracles came out called Small Miracles of the Holocaust. I plan to check this book out and I hope you will too.  The authors are Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal.




Small act of Kindness
September 1, 2008, 11:58 pm
Filed under: disabillity, Jewish, Shabbos | Tags: , , , , , ,




Hello Blog Readers,



I don’t know about you, but I am afraid to ask for help on the occasions that I need it.

In short the reason is that I have a disability and feel people expect me to need help.  I thank G-d that I manage very well and don’t want people to think that I am helpless.  I don’t want people to think that others with disabilities are helpless just because of their situation.  At times, I will be writing about disabilities.  Now is not that time.  I just thought I needed to give you some insight into why what many would call a simple act of kindness touched me so deeply.


As I walked to Shul, Synagogue, Saturday morning, I thought about how nice it was to be away from the pressure of the week.  When I got to the door of the building, a man opened it for me, I said thank you, he said Shabbat Shalom; I returned his greeting wishing him a good Sabbath and began to walk toward the side of the women’s section closest to me. 


I heard the man ask me if I needed a Siddur, a prayer book.  I turned and answered yes quickly seeing that he was already removing a second Siddur from the large book case.  When I got to the Women’s section door, he opened that for me too.  And once again, I said thank you. He just nodded.  Truth be told, I am not sure that he heard me say thank you.   Instead of just handing me the Siddur, he stepped into the entrance of the women’s section.  I was surprised and saw that the seat I usually sit in was taken.  I turned back to him, told him I could take it from here, and took the Siddur from him.  He quickly left.  I found a seat and began to pray feeling so grateful for the kindnesses of G-d and the kindnesses of human beings.


Many people would say, he opened the door for you, that’s nice.  And yes it was kind, but what’s the big deal? (The big deal is that he made my life easier, since it is a struggle for me to open a heavy door, and carry a heavy book a long way.  But he did it without making me feel different from everybody else, or helpless.) I accepted this person’s help so happily because of the way it was offered.  When he opened the Shul door for me I felt that he would do that for anyone who needed the door opened.  He wished me a good Shabbos the way he would wish anyone a good Shabbos.  When he entered the women’s section, my prayer book in hand, I sensed that he expected and was perfectly happy to carry my Siddur to whatever seat I found.  He did this act of kindness with very few words and his expression conveyed to me that he would carry anyone’s Siddur if he found another person who needed it.  There was no pity in his voice or facial expression.  There was no urgency in his walk, as if he had to open the door for me and carry my Siddur because he saw that I had a disability.  He was not patronizing, there was no indication that he felt obligated to help me because he thought I was helpless.  I quickly took my Siddur while he was standing in the doorway of the women’s section because I did not want him to feel uncomfortable and I knew that  I did have the Siddur, that I could carry it to my seat but I truly was moved.


We human beings are taught to do acts of kindness; we are taught that an act of kindness is a Mitzvah, a commandment.   Most people think that opening a door for someone or helping someone carry a book or groceries is a small act of kindness.  People sometimes think that a small act of kindness doesn’t do much to help the world and that they need to do big things in order to help the world at all.  A small act of kindness isn’t so small and can make meaningful improvements.  I am almost positive, he didn’t think much, or at all about what he did to help me once the task was done.  He may not even remember opening the door for me next week, but he did and it made a big difference. It served as more evidence that there is human kindness and that is important to remember.