This first day of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, is the first time in thirty years that I am not joining thirty-plus inspired voices to welcome the new year with music. While I am not with them in person, I continue to be present in spirit as I miss the entire experience.
A last-minute request for me to teach today was timely, if not wholly appropriate to the day. My best guess is that 99% of my fifth graders have never heard of Rosh Hashanah and I have no plans to change that. However, because this will be the first time in all those years that I “work,” the process of teaching seems consistent with that of prayer.
Ultimately, the acts of teaching and praying are exactly the same. In each case, we atone for our sins by dedicating ourselves to the tasks before us. We ask forgiveness to those whom we have sinned, forgiving those who have sinned against us. In the classroom, none of these young spirits are guilty of sins, either from or against me. But if I teach them dedication, commitment and compassion, I hope that they will be inspired to minimize the sins in their futures.
To all those who celebrate this day and the successive Days of Awe, I wish you happiness, health and peace. Beginning this life in a different venue, I remain nostalgic and grateful for all of the new years that I have been able to complete.
With God’s help and guidance, I hope to complete many more, to enjoy the growth of my magnificent grandchildren and to assist hundreds of young people in their journeys toward maturity. L’Shanah Tovah and Shalom.