By Rabbi Navah Levine, Rabbi-Educator at Temple Emeth
This September, my son Ari starts kindergarten. For the first time, he will be in school full-time, five days a week. He will be with a new group of children and new teachers, away from the careful cocoon of parents and nursery school that has nourished and watched over him until now. As Ari forges ahead, he will have many opportunities to learn and create and experience the wonders of this world in myriad ways.
Ari is ready – he is growing up, becoming older and more sophisticated and eager for new challenges. As is true for all of us, Ari does not know for sure what lies ahead for him in the coming year (“will there be homework?”), and he may feel nervous when that first day comes, but mostly he is happy anticipating this next stage. Even as he revels in the present joys of summer – swimming his five-year-old heart out and eating his ice cream with relish – Ari looks forward to the new adventures that fall will bring, declaiming to all who ask that he will be in kindergarten this year!
Entering kindergarten epitomizes how we ought to enter the New Year. The central message of this season is that daily life is filled with opportunities for growth and change and experiencing the world with a sense of wonder and goodness. The holidays remind us that life is meant to be a joyful and fulfilling adventure, and it is our job to make it so.
Throughout our lives, each one of us is in the process of growing up, although in adulthood, we tend to forget and think we’re done. We forget that we can learn new things every day; we forget that learning is a joy; we forget that – no matter how old we are – it is never too late to grow, appreciate, wonder and revel in what life has to offer. It is never too late to play nicely with those around us. It is never too late to care about how others feel. It is never too late to share.
It is never too late to do something good for the planet. It is never too late to give toys and food and money and clothes and medicine to those who need them. It is never too late to make new friends. It is never too late to learn new tricks. It is never too late to let go of old hurts and forgive. Indeed, the time is now. Now. Now. This year, this day, this moment. “Now” is the High Holiday message.
Shanah Tovah u’Metukah – may it be a good, sweet, joyous and growth-filled year for us all.
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