Dear Friends: OMG – in the language of texts and tweets, “Oh my God!” After nearly a week in Iceland, there were many OMG moments as depicted in my photos that begin to capture some of the natural pristine beauty of the land, the glaciers & geysers, the waterfalls & volcanoes! Although approximately 150 Jews currently reside in Iceland, it’s remarkable, given the interconnected world we live in, that there isn’t a single Jewish site in sight in the entire country.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel deftly utilized the word ineffable – that which we behold that defies the finite capacity of language. To witness the birth of a child or grandchild, to see the majesty in the world, which God has gifted to us, through waterfalls, sunrises and stars in the heavenly canopy is an OMG moment. Rabbi Heschel proclaimed, “There is a dawn of wonder and surprise in our souls, when the things that surround us suddenly slip off the triteness with which we have endowed them…a gap that no words can fill. Who am I to scan the holy stars, to witness the settings of the sun, for breathing, thinking, for sight and hearing, for loving and dreaming.” The ineffable is the grandeur and majesty of the world that we all too often take for granted – and when we stumble upon a moment so sublime, OMG becomes a dynamic force of prayer that emanates from our souls as we are touched by our existence and the celebration that is living.
Blessings and prayers capture the profound joy of the wonders in our lives and in our world. Being in Iceland was to be embraced by the raw, pristine discoveries around each bend in the road that dazzled the soul and brilliantly cultivated a deep and heartfelt appreciation of the world in which we live. Being captivated by ineffable, OMG magical moments is the primordial predicate of faith – to be in awe of God’s beauty in the artistry of our world and of our lives.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur celebrate our journey in life and provide us a sacred moment from time immemorial to reflect upon our path in life and how we have the power to mend and mold the trajectory in our lives. The imperative of these High Holy Days is for us to reflect upon our travelogue in life and see that despite dark moments, there are joyous, ineffable and magical moments that define our pathways.
Sukkot then arrives and brings us from the cerebral, introspective and reflective into the world of nature that God has painted for us. By being in the shade of the sukkah, we are open to the beauty of the world. By inviting family and friends into the sukkah, we revel in the delight of the matrix of relationships that uplift us and share in the pleasures of food and wine that capture holiness in everyday realities.
The dancing and festivities of Simchat Torah are the catalyst of emotions that cognitively brings into perspective that our lives are guided by the WAZE of Torah. There is deep meaning that we cultivate in our lives – the sublime values that are everlastingly the gift of Torah – our faith, traditions, history and moral compass.
As we leave behind the summer months that hopefully have created a number of wonderful memories in moments, relationships, milestones and travels, we now turn to build upon the warmth of summer, to warm our souls and faith for the future.
One need not travel to Iceland for the ineffable moments of God portrayed in waterfalls and sunlit nights, one can discover the joy of Judaism and the blessings of faith right here. The sweet celebrations of a Shabbat dinner with family, the joy of a Jewish life cycle event, the tender love we provide through our kind words and deeds when we provide comfort and visit the ill. We see God lives in us when we celebrate the festivals, build a sukkah and join in the power of prayer at each minyan at DHJC.
The New Year is about to begin with blessings. Count your blessings; see your gifted moments and be in awe of the love in this world. Discover and deepen your faith at the wellsprings of Judaism that is the heart and soul of DHJC. Pause and watch a sunset, marvel at the canopy of stars, and see beauty in this world. Be touched by the ineffable and simply be a blessing and bless others.
Laura, along with Yael, Yair, Lev, Nadav, Aviva, Hillel, Jaclyn, Elie, Tamar & Noam join me in wishing you and your loved ones, a shanah tovah!!