We cross the finish line of the expiring Jewish year reflecting on untold challenges: a worldwide pandemic, social isolation, economic hardship, devastating wildfires, and a national reckoning with systemic racism. Rosh Hashanah offers us a new beginning, a chance to yearn with hope and prayer that the incoming year is one of blessings, smiles, and goodness.

When we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, it reminds us of the breath of life, the potential for infinite glory. The new year arrives and we are offered a new opportunity to carry through with excitement, and a reminder, through the blowing of the shofar, to become aware of other people’s potential, and our own.

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to feel “less than” when you have less than you need or want. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased food, housing, and resource insecurities for so many of our clients at JCCA, exacerbating personal insecurities in turn. Many of the teens in our Kesher program are weighed down by these feelings. Their self-perception drains their ability to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. We must teach them to see the good in themselves and those around them, and not get lost in their shortcomings.

Meeting our clients’ emotional and material needs rebuilds self-esteem and bolsters resilience. All year long, our programs fulfill the promise of the shofar by focusing on our clients’ strengths, helping them see the potential that is inside all of us.

We must remind ourselves of the same. Never has it been more important to look for the glory in ourselves and each other. No matter our hardships, we should all be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and see more than a reflection. We should see greatness, unique to each one.

This lifetime is our opportunity for greatness. May we all be blessed with a happy and sweet new year, revealing countless potential within us and others! The end of this upcoming year will only be as special as its energized start.

L’Shana Tova!

Rabbi Ilan Ginian, MSW
Director of Kesher & Partners in Caring