Creating Our New Year Consciously As I sat in the front row at Rosh Hashanah services yesterday, I realized I was watching my son create his future right before my eyes and the teary eyes of the rest of my Jewish renewal community, Chadeish Yameinu in Santa Cruz, CA. I watched with gritted teeth and a tense body, closing my eyes each time I felt myself focusing too much worrisome energy in his direction. I didn’t want to make his first time as ba’al tekiah any harder than it already was with my intense stare on him, fear showing in my eyes — fear that he would not blow the shofar, the ram’s horn, well and find himself embarrassed, as I waited with bated breath for the next call to be blown. I closed my eyes and listened…the real mitzvah (commandment) for the holiday…to the beautiful calls of the rams horn that my son created. I heard the calls — one a call for us to awaken to the Spirit of the Universe, to return to God, to connect with the part of ourselves created in the Divine image, another to remind us of the brokenness in the world and in our lives, another to make us hear a mother crying — maybe the Shechinah (the female aspect of God) weeping for all the negativity in her creation, for the death of her children. It’s a call to be reborn, to heal the brokenness, to change the tears to laughter. And it provides an opportunity for us to take the energy of the new Jewish year and to create what we want in the coming year. At this time of year, the universal energies help us to manifest what we desire. And we have 10 days until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement or At-One-Ment, to think about how we missed the mark in the last year — the Hebrew word for sin, “chet,” comes from the archery term that means “to miss the mark” — and how we want to do things differently. Again, we use the energy between the two holidays to help us manifest what we desire, within ourselves and in our external world. And there stood my son, creating what he wanted. He was blowing the most beautiful calls with his long, shiny shofar. He was stepping into the position he has dreamed of holding, and, in the process, manifesting that position as his own. He was becoming what he wanted right there in the moment. And, despite my worries, he seemed to be doing it confidently and with little problem. Everyone watched this 12-year-old boy step into the shoes of an adult and become a necessary part of the holiday rituals. In fact, he was making it possible for everyone in the room to fulfill their mitzvah of hearing the shofar blown. He also was performing a great mitzvah — the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. What an honor for him. What a gift for everyone else. And he received the gift of performing a commandment, doing it with confidence, and having the experience of being good at what he was doing, and giving to others at the same time. I was so proud. And as I watched him become what he had dreamed of being, a ba’al tekiah, I realized that I, too, needed to step into the role I want to play, the position I want hold in the coming year. I need to stop talking about what I want to do, what I hope to create, what I desire in my life and, as Nike likes to say, “Just do it.” I needed to use the next 10 days to be what I want to be in the next year, thus helping to inscribe myself in the book of life. And I needed to seize every opportunity to do so, just as my son had done. Yes, we are told that on Rosh Hashanah “it is written” and on Yom Kippur “it is sealed”…who shall live and who shall die, who shall prosper and who shall lack…Yet, Judaism teaches us that despite the fate God determines for us, we always have the opportunity to change that decree. We change it with our actions and with our intentions and with our attempts to be the best people we can be. Rosh Hashanah is about turning back to ourselves — the best part of ourselves, our true, pure selves — pure souls. (Elohai neshama shena tata bi tehora hi…Oh, God, the soul you have given me, she is pure.) We can try now, during the next 10 days, to determine that decree, to begin the process of manifesting our desires by combining our thoughts and our feelings into an experience of what we want right now — just like my son blowing the shofar only in our minds and bodies. We can look at our past year, determine what we want to change, decide who we want to be, and then begin right now to be that person. And each day afterward we can continue this process, thus taking an active role in determining how the book of our life is written. Despite the fact that the Kabbalists say God is directing our movie, we, as the actors, have the free will to think, say and act in that movie. We play our part. What part do you want to play this year? Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you be it? I can. During the tashlich service at the beach, where we symbolically discarded our sins by throwing crumbs of bread into the ocean, I took one large piece and asked to be forgiven for not being my true self, not fulfilling my soul purpose during the past year. The sound of my son playing the shofar will ring in my ears for a long time, reminding me to create my life now, tomorrow, the next day, the next week, the next month and all those that follow. I’ll remember also that piece of bread floating on the receding wave and my intention, my kavanah, to this year be my best self and do what I know I am here to do.