Rosh Hashanah Musings

My email inbox is filled with Rosh Hashanah e-cards from colleagues and friends wishing me a sweet and healthy New Year. Some are quite clever and all very lovely. There are lots of e-greetings using video and animation and a couple that have taken humorous, sharp pokes at the U.S. presidential political scene. I even received a few old-school, snail-mailed holiday greetings. All these wish are nice, albeit not terribly inspiring and leave me feeling flat.

So, Monday morning as I was putting the finishing touches on the noodle kugel, I figured out what was bothering me. It’s that this is a time of reflection and hopefully a chance to focus on doing things better next year. None of the messages I got from Jewish organizations inspired me or offered me anything of substance or value.

Shouldn’t more organizations use what has become a Hallmark greetings moment to go beyond offering me good wishes for the New Year and give me something more authentically connected to the themes of the season? Offer me something I want or care about at this time of year? I got a nice card from UJA-Federation of New York but only found their great High Holiday service listing when I chanced onto their website. How great would it have been to include notice of where to attend services in New York City in their holiday greeting to me.

I didn’t get a greeting from American Jewish World Service but their website offers a great example of how to connect your mission with the New Year. Their homepage (one of a very few) actually messages to the themes of Rosh Hashanah, offering a matching gifts opportunity in honor of the New Year and special, downloadable Rosh Hashanah e-cards. I hope they pushed out these messages alongside their holiday greetings to their supporters.

Most major Jewish organizations’ homepages don’t even reference the High Holidays. Take a look for yourselves and you have to wonder why there is so little connection to this most important “Jewish” moment in the year. We seem to be ignoring our big annual opportunity to touch the Jewish community when they are most inclined to think and act Jewishly. It’s like if the Salvation Army were to ignore Christmas and not put out the Red Kettles!

L’Shana Tova—and if you want to do something important with your New Year celebration, make a gift to AJWS or sign up for a volunteer project and really feel the meaning of the season.


You can read more from Gail here.