As a Jew, the Ten Days of Awe, also known as “Aseret Yemei Teshuvah,” is a period of deep introspection and repentance for myself as well as other Jews around the world.  These ten days span from Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Though we strive to practice self reflection throughout the year, the Days of Awe provide a sacred and dedicated time to pause, and truly engage in self-examination, seek forgiveness, and strive to make amends with others. The process involves reflecting on one’s actions, acknowledging mistakes, committing to positive change, and making a genuine effort to become a better person.

My faith has taught me that atonement is not about dwelling on past mistakes or harboring guilt; it’s about acknowledging our humanity and seeking the path to healing and reconciliation. It is a chance to mend broken bonds, not only with others, but in our commitment to care for and mend the earth, our relationship with G-d, and our own hearts.  Judaism also teaches that atonement requires action.  We must do the work and truly seek forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation directly with others.  We must replenish the earth.  And, we must mend our relationship with G-d.  We cannot atone by solely asking or praying to G-d for forgiveness.  We have to take personal responsibility and accountability for our actions and genuinely seek forgiveness and reconciliation.  

This is also a time to release the weight of resentment and anger, and instead, extend a hand of forgiveness and understanding. It’s a time to forgive others, not because they may deserve it, but because true forgiveness has the power to bring peace. And to be kind and forgive yourself, for we are all works in progress, and every stumble is a step toward becoming a better version of yourself. 

It may take time and work before we find the strength or are truly ready to forgive and reconcile.  It may extend beyond the years.  May these Days of Awe serve as a reminder that self-improvement and change is possible, that love and compassion are the keys to mending what is broken, and that embracing our true selves, acknowledging our flaws, and working towards positive change, can move us closer to a state of inner peace and harmony, and ultimately enrich our lives and those of others.

שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה (transliteration Shana tovah u’metukah)
May you have a good and sweet year,
Wendy Motch-Ellis
Director of Administration