5780: A New Jewish Year, A New Jewish Decade

Shalom and welcome back from summer to the Jewish rhythms of a new year. 

This Rosh Hashanah we enter into a new Jewish decade. We welcome 5780 and the possibilities of a grand, transformative new beginning. With gematria, the mystical practice of transforming numbers into Hebrew letters, 5780 highlights the letter pei (also representing the number 80). Pei is also a word that literally means mouth and focuses our attention on the power of words. 

As you will also read in Rabbi Yael’s article, “This is a time to be vigilant about the words we use, the stories we tell and the narratives we live by. This is an opportunity to wonder about the words we want to place upon our hearts and before our eyes to guide our efforts and actions.”

In Exodus 4:12, our Torah depicts God assuring Moses, that Moses’ real or perceived limitations of his capacity to change the world through the words of his mouth, do not need to define his taking a stand to end oppression and reconnect with his people in a remarkable way, “Anochi eheyeh im picha / I will be your mouthpiece.” As it says in Pirkei Avot 5:22 (Sayings of our Sages), “When one is eighty years old, they have reached a special strength.” Moses is described as being eighty years old when he led us out of Egypt and eighty when he transmitted the Torah to us at Sinai. 

Whatever our age or stage of life, our skill, experience or lack thereof, our tradition says any turning of a decade can be a time to break the shackles that hold us and others back, to tap into the miracle of life itself, and in community and relationship, find or refine our calling, purpose and perhaps, help liberate ourselves and others from narratives, systems and leaders who are fueled by power, cruelty and injustice.

This New Year urges us to expand our vision and focus our energy and attention on the life of our planet, communities, our Mishkan, and own souls. I see the invitation and even the call that 5780 and this new decade in our larger cultural calendar provides as we reach 2020, is to see even beyond this time to the longer vision. Let’s be bold and claim this coming year with our eyes wide-open and the words of our mouths (pei), and actions of our hearts opening to justice for all (Pitchu Li shaarei tzedek). Let’s not wait for hindsight vision and lament what we might have done for the sake of the planet, our nation and communities, the meaning and potential purpose of our own lives and those of our loved ones. Our goal is to actively, consciously and compassionately reach for clarity and insight so we can engage more fully with the expanse of life’s choices, blessings and challenges in clear, true and accountable ways. 

Our Jewish tradition and values and our own Mishkan Shalom statement of principles, invite us to rise above cynicism or apathy and get involved in life with discernment, commitment and compassion, not despite our current circumstance, rather even more so because of them. Our city, state and nation are gearing up to organize this year for an election cycle that will affect our democratic, diverse and sense of justice for decades to come. This precious earth cries out for our immediate attention, as do those longing to join us in these United States of America. 

As we look ahead to this year, our new passionate president Steve Jones and the dynamic board we elected last June will be guiding us in tandem with our staff, active committees and membership. A great committee was assembled and is chaired by our immediate past-president Ellen Tichenor to oversee and coordinate activities during my Sabbatical this coming November-December, and February-mid-May. We are focused together on supporting continued retention and growth, going for 100% membership participation in our long-term sustainability campaign moving into its third year. 

We are fully moving into our fourth decade as a Jewish spiritually activist community. Please look at the wide-array of educational and programmatic offerings coming this year and get involved in volunteering and/or participating. 

On Shabbat weekend of September 6-7, we will have an opportunity to show up with and for each other, to lean into a renewed commitment and connections with each other in a full weekend of dynamic learning, prayer, and sustenance (fulfilling our Brit Mishkan/sign up here). 

Rabbi Yael, Gabby Kaplan Meyer and I will all be on hand for the first potluck of the new season, tot Shabbat and Kabbalat Shabbat with help from some other young leaders!

Throughout the Days of Awe and the year ahead we will lift our eyes to life and together focus on our vision and mission on how we can act for justice, compassion and peace in the years(s) ahead. These are indeed the times we were made for! 

Elul tov v’Shanah Tovah U’Mitukah--wishing all of us and our precious world rebirth and renewal in the year ahead. 

Click here for further resources for the month of Elul, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.


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