October 2015, from the clergy

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Dear Women of Rodef Sholom,

Shabbat is coming in and, as I sit writing this last communication before evening falls I feel full of gratitude and joy. The turn-around between Yom Kippur and Sukkot has always felt crazy to me and most years I’ve wondered: “Couldn’t Sukkot just be a few days later!” But this year, my first year building a real sukkah in my own backyard, I recognized the spiritual aliveness of this rushed turnaround. From the deep personal introspection of Yom Kippur to the joy of eating a meal with our community in the Sukkah-the contrast is palpable. And that is the whole point-for us to experience the full range of human emotion in the short span of these holidays. And so we build our Sukkot, no matter how tired we may still be from fasting. And how sweet it is!

It’s nearly impossible to have a Sukkah in New York City when you’re living there as a student. During my years in cantorial and rabbinical school living in Brooklyn I celebrated sukkot with my synagogue and fulfilled the mitzvah of eating meals in a sukkah on my graduate school’s rooftop where we would build a communal sukkah each year. It was very rare for any one of my friends to have a sukkah of their own because space was so limited. This year, it feels like an incredible privilege to be able to host people in my own sukkah that members of Rodef Sholom helped to build. It’s a new year, and this festival of joy and gratitude is a beautiful way for our tradition to celebrate.

Just like in secular time, the new year in Jewish time is a wonderful opportunity to take on a new practice. One practice that I will be exploring this year is a return to jogging/walking as a regular morning gratitude practice after years away. The purpose of my return to jogging is not about fitness or pushing myself in any competitive way. Rather, it is entirely about getting up in the morning, greeting the day with gratitude, being outside, and feeling appreciation for movement and for the body that keeps me going each day. If you are interested in joining me in this new practice please e-mail me at elana@rodefsholom.org.  Together we’ll form a supportive group of joggers/walkers and choose a 5K we would like to participate in together!

Wishing you a Happy New Year and Chag Sukkot Sameach!

Rabbi Elana

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