As we start this New Year, we ask for the opportunity to begin with a “blank slate.” I found myself using this language of “starting again” with my two teenage daughters as well. The new start includes simple routine adjustments such as going to bed earlier, establishing a homework routine, and being open to new friends and the changes of those they already know.
On the other side, how do we know that others will give us the blank slate that we need to be renewed to start again? How many of us have to re-explain who we are even with our best intentions? We wish for those we love to see us as we want to be seen and heard.
We try in many ways to gain the blank slate, and push the reboot button. Our tradition offers us this in the prayer B’Rosh Hashanah: “Through Repentance, Tzedakah, and Tefillah” we may find our way back again. Asking for forgiveness, giving tzedakah, and praying can erase the past, explain the wrongs, and correct the mistakes.
As a community, we are working together to help the students in the Cheltenham School District who are in great need to start school with a blank slate. Many are starting without the proper school supplies, lunches, and classroom resources they need. Several years ago, we, along with Beth Shalom, Kol Ami and Calvary Presbyterian Church of Wyncote created a group called “Champions for Cheltenham” with the goal of helping families in the Cheltenham School District struggling with food insecurity, homelessness and other acute financial stresses. All this support is coordinated through the district social worker and help goes directly to the needy families without any overhead or bureaucratic inefficiency.
I am really proud of our community, and how we offer so many opportunities for congregants to find their own blank state and to give that to others whether it is through learning, worship, or giving. Please join together this Sunday for Shofar on the Roof and for our Champions. Don’t forget to bring a donation or gift card, there will be pretzels and ice cream to enjoy!
I am wishing you a very sweet and healthy New Year filled with the gift of a blank slate from your own hearts and the hearts of others!