What is the difference between wishing someone a “Happy New Year” and a “Shanah Tova?” When we say “Happy New Year,” we evoke images of revelers, champagne and celebration...perhaps even images of the ball dropping in Times Square. When we wish someone a “Shanah Tova” we are wishing them a good year. What makes a good year? Certainly there might be an element of happiness. But happiness is not enough – goodness is deeper. Goodness is about what I do for myself and others. The purpose of life is not happiness, but rather it is to live a life that matters, to be productive, and to have made a difference.
Hidden in the greeting “Shanah Tova” is the Hebrew word ‘change.’ So when we wish someone a Shanah Tova – we are wishing them a good year, a year of change. In order for it to be a good year, we need to change; to grow and learn.
Certainly this year will be a year of change for our Temple Adat Elohim family. We pray and hope that it will also be a good year for all of us.
When you join us this year for High Holy Days services, we hope that you will be inspired by our liturgy, music and sermons. We hope that you will feel embraced by this sacred community. And, most of all, we hope that these days of holiness will open a window to oneself that leads to a year of growth and learning, a year of change, and of goodness to a Shanah Tova.
May our High Holy Days services inspire a beautiful new year for all of us.
Rabbi Straus & Cantor Shukiar