Congregation Sha'aray Israel

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A Conservative Jewish Congregation serving the spiritual needs of the Middle Georgia Jewish community since 1904

From the Rabbi

September 2015
Elul - Tishri 5775 / 5776


Looking around, I notice little hints that the wheel of seasons is turning. As I write these words there are just a few days left in August. A couple of days ago it was cool enough in the early morning for it to feel chilly! What a welcome relief from the sizzling heat. I've been impatiently waiting for the habanero peppers in my garden - stubbornly remaining green - to turn that beautiful butterscotch color, and just a couple days ago those funny shaped peppers (they're also called Scotch bonnet, and they look a bit like the hat worn by the cantor in shul on High Holidays when I was growing up) have flashed into their brilliant new shade.

Summer's heat yielding to Fall's delicious cool days - this reminds me of the challenge posed by the waning month of Elul. Are we capable of changing? We know that change is built into life and, still, we stubbornly dig our heels in. Change upsets our familiar groove. But change holds out promise that we can grow beyond the ruts that entrap us.

A new term has begun in Religious School. I notice the kids returning, looking so grown up from last year. And there is a sense of excitement - even among some parents who aren't too exhausted and jaded, of learning new things. Yes, there are adventures that await in the books we'll read and the films we'll watch. The Torah will start all over again with Bereisheet - The Beginning, along with our Matriarchs and Patriarchs playing favorites and making their kids crazy all over again!)

And while we start again soon from Book One in the Torah, it is not the Same As It Ever Was. Life has inevitably etched some experiences - joys and sorrows - into our bones, our souls. This is one of my favorite times. The changes are whispering to us: Open your hearts! Embrace the possibility of feeling renewed and inspired. Soak in the holidays. Challenge yourself to learn new things! May the new year 5776 taste like sweet honey in our mouths, and may we bring out sweetness and blessings in each other.

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