Posted by Marjorie U. Sokoll
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl
Judaism is a tradition that sets aside time each year for self-reflection and self-examination, offering us the potential for transformation and healing through our meaningful efforts to make changes in our lives.
During the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are given the opportunity to begin this journey of self-evaluation in earnest, in preparation for the New Year.
From the beginning of the first day of Elul through Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur is a forty day period. The number forty holds great significance in Judaism with regard to change and renewal. The Israelites traveled in the wilderness for 40 years; the flood lasted for 40 days in the story of Noah; and Moses remained on Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive the Ten Commandments. This forty day period invites us to examine our lives and reflect on what we hope to change, with the knowledge that we can begin anew through our personal journey of transformation.
At sunset on September 4, Rosh Hashanah begins. May the coming year bring you many blessings and new beginnings.
Marjorie U. Sokoll, MEd, Director of Jewish Life and Healing, is the founder and director of JF&CS Jewish Healing Connections, which helps ensure that people feel a sense of connection when facing the challenges of illness, loss, or isolation by offering spiritual and communal supports to provide hope, comfort, and wholeness guided by Jewish tradition. “It is not good for people to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). Marjie also provides spiritual support for the JF&CS Parkinson’s Family Support Program, is a founding partner at the Kalsman Institute for Judaism and Health, and holds a certificate of thanatology from the National Center for Death Education.