I’ve come to the conclusion we need to change the date of Simchat Torah. Our Jewish festivals must be re-envisioned as inspirational community gatherings of joyful spiritual Jewish celebration. Every single festival needs to be a time of great community involvement and meaning.
During the height of the recession, I moved to Switzerland. I had already lived in France, Japan, India and Israel, and traveled much of the rest of the world.
While my neighbors were putting their Christmas trees to the curb, in what seems like a ritual of replacement, I was preparing to plant for Tu BiShvat.
Tu BiShvat is a reminder that we spend our lives planting seeds. Time and effort are needed for our efforts to bear fruit. Wait patiently. One day, like the seed, we will be blessed.
It is life we want, no more and no less than that, our own life feeding on our own vital sources, in the fields and under the skies of our homeland, a life based on our own physical and mental labors; we want vital energy and spiritual richness from this living source.
We who have become cynical,
Whom life has raised its tough first
Of despair and
Disappointment and heartache
We who have learned to protect our souls
And toughen our hearts
To avoid more anguish
As Rosh HaShanah approached last year, I was living in southwestern China, where I celebrated by eating apples and explaining the Jewish New Year to my Chinese roommate.
The basic Rosh HaShanah Amidah is an elaboration of that for the Festivals. Both have seven benedictions, as on Shabbat—the first three and last three of the daily Amidah, with the Kedushat hayom (“Sanctity of the Day”) benediction in the middle.1 On both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the Kedushat hayom benediction builds on the text for the Festivals: