Jewishly Speaking features a thought from a member of our Jewish Enrichment team. Our inaugural message comes from Liron Lipinsky, Associate Vice President of Jewish Enrichment.
I write this message on the heels of an incredible weekend with teen leaders from all over the globe at August Executives Conference. While there, I found myself frequently pausing, completely awed by the wonder that surrounded me. BBYO teens feel an undeniable sense of urgency—an urgency to make their communities more just, more welcoming, and safer for all. “If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14). Like Hillel when he wrote this, BBYO teens are in a constant state of self-examination.
Rosh Hashanah literally means “Head of the Year” in that it marks the point when we begin the new calendar year (this season begins the Jewish calendar year 5780). There are four names for this holy day, each one highlighting a different facet of the holiday. In addition to Rosh Hashanah, we have:
Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment
Yom Harat Haolam, the Birthday of the World
Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance
Yom Teruah, The Day of Sounding [the Shofar]—this is the actual name that the holiday is called in the Torah. The Teruah is the staccato sound blown by the shofar.
We open another programming year at BBYO alongside the High Holy Days and the sounding of the Shofar. This sound, an alarm for our souls, further fuels the sense of urgency for our Movement. The Shofar jolts us to reevaluate, re-envision, and refine ourselves for another year ahead. Another year has gone by… another year lies before us for us to do better for the world.
Of all the names for the holiday listed about, Yom Hazikaron is likely to be the least familiar to most. Yet, memory, and thus Yom Hazikaron, is one of the most powerful and hopeful elements of this season. The role of memory and remembering has extreme significance in modern Jewish practice, but also stems deeply into the history of our people. In fact, the word zachor, “remember,” appears more than 150 times in our Torah. Most familiar, the Ten Commandments include, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” as well as, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt,” the reminder of our responsibilities as a Jewish people once enslaved and now free. These are the seeds that root into the sense of urgency teens feels today.
Your teen is not in this work alone. They have a whole Movement from all corners of the world joining them in pursuing those urgent dreams. They also have you to partner with them and cheer them on. These upcoming High Holy Days provide a valuable opportunity—ten whole days set aside from our otherwise busy and noisy world to remind ourselves of who we are and where we came from, and to dream about where we would like to be. We do this work together as a Jewish community all over the globe to encourage one another not only to vision, but to get started on fulfilling those visions—of a more just, more welcoming, and safer world for all.