The Days of Awe

Written by Lisa Berman, Education Center Director at Mayyim Hayyim

I know this is not a popular sentiment, and I’m a little nervous to even admit it here— but, I hate fall. I am a summer girl through and through. I love the beach (in summer, folks; when you can swim and the sand is hot). I love the fact that, thanks to an awesome Jewish overnight camp, my husband and I enjoy The Month of Us while our kids are singing and frolicking in the Berkshires. I love sitting on my deck on the Cape surrounded by flowers, herbs, and a dozen busy bird feeders. I love not having to get up early, not having to negotiate homework times, and having my Sundays off (a Jewish educator’s favorite part of summer). I love the clothes, the food, and, frankly, I look a whole lot better with a tan.

Lisa Berman

I admit that as a freakishly organized person, I kind of like filling up my iCal(endar) with Everything Fall – Back to School night, football carpools, bar mitzvahs, Jewish holidays, classes to teach and classes to take.

And I could take a lesson from my daughter who was so excited to return to her beloved college this fall that she was literally jumping up and down in the car woo-hoo-ing as we drove through the gates.

While you may not have as strong an aversion to fall as I do, you, too, may struggle with the idea of really feeling ready for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. After all, it’s one thing to put that service schedule on the fridge, buy the kids new shoes, and get to shul on time (and I HATE sitting in those folding chairs in the back). It’s another thing to actually do the soul-work our tradition expects – right then, right there, in your (hopefully cushioned) seat. It kind of blind-sides you. One minute you’re arguing with your teenager about whether he can wear basketball shoes to services, and the next minute you’re in the sanctuary trying to meaningfully tally your shortcomings for the entire last year (one of which is either that you let him wear those stinky sneakers to shul, or that you forced him out of them – I’m not sure which).

Since 2004, Mayyim Hayyim has been offering the community an annual way to Get Ready – to ramp up to the holidays and not be taken by surprise. We call it “Preparing for the Days of Awe: Opportunities to Prepare Spiritually for the New Year through Song, Study and Movement.”  This year it falls on Sunday, September 18, and our line up of teachers is truly inspiring. You can sing with our beloved Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler— the acoustics in our atrium make everyone sound fabulous! You can study texts and discuss them with the energizing Rabbi Neil Hirsch of Temple Shalom of Newton about what would it mean to count social justice work as teshuvah. Or, through painting and creative writing led by Jacqueline Serebrani-Kesner, you can renew, re-strengthen, reflect and refresh in preparation for the days of awe.

I think that with a little prep, I can face this fall thing with some grace. I hope you’ll join me for a wonderful program.

For more information about this program or to register, click here.

Lisa Berman is the Education Center Director at Mayyim Hayyim.  She has been involved with Mayyim Hayyim since it opened its doors in May 2004, initially as a trained Mikveh Guide and then as the liaison with area congregational religious schools and adult learning groups to direct their experiences at Mayyim Hayyim’s Education Center.  Since its inception, more than 12,000 people have come to learn about the ancient ritual of mikveh at one of Mayyim Hayyim’s educational programs.  Lisa, her husband, and their two children are members of Temple Shalom of Newton. 


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