I know for many of us, we do not love the word renewal. Perhaps it feels too 1960’s, too loose and open, without enough concrete guidance and direction. I also think that the idea of renewal as we contemplate a personal renewal takes work. There is no guidebook or simple one-page summary of how to go about personal renewal.
Yet there is perhaps nothing more valuable and worthy than allowing ourselves to experience renewal as we look at our lives, our relationships, our families, our work, our Judaism, and so much more. To regenerate ourselves, is, by definition, spiritual renewal, and it encompasses all aspects of our lives.
There is a Jewish Renewal Movement, and when investigating their mission, I learned that Jewish Renewal, as a movement, is grounded in Judaism’s prophetic traditions, similar to Reform Judaism, and our mystical traditions, the more Kabbalistic aspects of our tradition. Jewish Renewal carries, as defined on the Movement’s website, “carried forward Judaism’s perpetual process of renewal. Jewish Renewal seeks to bring creativity, relevance, joy and an all-embracing awareness to spiritual practice, as a path to healing our hearts and finding balance and wholeness....”
I would like to think that many of us strive for this kind of renewal if and when we put our hearts and minds to the task of renewal. What a wonderful opportunity during the month of Elul, as Rosh Hashanah awaits us but one week away, to allow for reinvigoration and revival, in our lives, our relationships, with Judaism and with God.
Perhaps as we go through the regular steps of our daily lives, we can pause during the rest of Elul and during the Days of Repentance between the High Holy Days to reflect on the decisions we have made to give direction to our lives. So often we live life according to what is comfortable, or even necessary. If we could allow ourselves the freedom to design life with a bit more intention, where might we land?
Recognizing that we have bills to pay, children and parents to care for, work and home obligations, might we find some aspect in our lives that is open and ready for reviving, and focus on it for this upcoming year. For some, it might be a renewal of our spirits. For others, a renewal and attention to our bodies. For still others, renewal of relationships with friends and family. Let us start with just one aspect of renewing our lives, and let us do some serious reflection and inner searching to understand how we might accomplish renewal in this New Year.
Now let the sound of the shofar be heard;
And let our souls be awakened!
Rabbi Debbie Bravo