Rosh Hashanah is the New Elul

by Carrie Bornstein

Every year I tell myself I’m going to immerse in the mikveh before Rosh Hashanah.  And every year, Rosh Hashanah sneaks up on me and I wonder how I can possibly set aside the time to make it happen.  Yes, I am aware that it takes approximately 7 seconds to get from my desk to the mikveh pools.  I envy the 91 people who came to immerse at Mayyim Hayyim in the past week, from Newton to the Berkshires to Connecticut. 

Rosh Hashanah has become the new Elul for me.  Elul – that full month of reflection, preparation, and soul-searching built in to our tradition to make sure we’re really ready for the holidays.  It’s a smart concept.  Just as we don’t immerse in the mikveh without preparing, we don’t jump in to Rosh Hashanah without getting ready first.

Except when we do. When Rosh Hashanah comes right on the heels of summer and we’re trying to pack in all we can to a short week, and there’s cooking to be done and school supplies to buy.

So it’s not until sitting down at Rosh Hashanah services that I actually begin getting ready in earnest.  Less than ideal, for sure.

This year though, rather than lamenting my lost preparations once again, I’m embracing this reality.  Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the holiday season, after all, not the end.

I’m taking the bull by the horns (or rather, taking the lifeguard by the whistle? Can’t resist a good water pun) and scheduling my immersion for right before Yom Kippur, something I’ve never done before.  Will it be easier to make it happen then?  Who am I kidding – probably not.

But this is the season of fresh starts, right?  Of good intentions.  Of starting anew. Rosh Hashanah has jumpstarted me to become fully present, just as last week’s 91 visitors have, too.  I am ready.

“May I return to my true self and be strengthened as I continue my journey of tikkun halev—repairing the heart, tikkun hanefesh—repairing the soul, and tikkun olam—repairing the world.”

Turning to Forgiveness, An Immersion Ceremony for Yom Kippur

This post is dedicated to the memory of my dear childhood friend, Brooke Alexandra Jackman, who died just two weeks after her 23rd birthday in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. Follow her on twitter @carolinering.


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