“After the holidays all will be renewed”
say the words of a song I grew up on in Israel —Hitchadshut (renewal) by Israeli songwriter Neomi Shemer
The high holidays are such a meaningful time on the Jewish calendar - the new year, the days for reflection and atonement, commemoration, community, personal and collective memory of a people, festivities, and family time. It is the starting point for the year and everything to come after that point in time.
“Acharey HaChagim,” after the holidays, somehow became that point on the calendar that is not really defined, but everything will happen next. It is also a great way to procrastinate and push people away from you — “Talk to me after the holidays.” It is when the academic school year starts at universities and colleges in Israel and when people come back from vacations and restart. A renewal, just like the name of the song.
For Israel and the Israelis, this term had a different meaning this year. To reduce the infection rate of Covid-19, Israel was put on lockdown right before Rosh Hashanah and is now slowly opening. Schools, businesses, and shops were closed, a limitation was imposed on how far you could go from your home and how many people could come together, all in the efforts to fight the spread of the pandemic. Knowing that the lockdown was to end, or be somewhat eased after the high holidays, Israelis were waiting impatiently for the holidays to be over. Alongside the pandemic and the lockdown, the land is gushing with protests for different political and social issues. People in Israel are calling for a change. Renewal.
At the same time, we heard about the new agreements and relationships with Arab countries – UAE, Bahrein, and Sudan. A new Middle East is slowly taking form.
And here? People are awakened from all sides and views due to the political reality; some places are back to normal and others are still “Covid-Normal,” but a lot of us are still waiting for some sort of re-start button to push for renewal. I must admit that after 7 months of working from home due to Covid, time became a concept that is blurry. A Monday or a Friday, summer or fall, before or after the holidays — it all looks and feels the same. SO much is going on, and we do so much, but sometimes it is hard to notice the small changes around.
As I ask for the new, or renewed, I realize I can find a lot of it all around me — the programs I am working on, planning big and small things that will hopefully have a great impact. My school work and the growth I get from that, the new people entering my life constantly from different places, the news from a good friend in Israel about a pregnancy, the changing leaves, the crisp air, and even the new season of “This is Us,” a TV show I was waiting for, alongside “Sh’at Ne’ilah” — a new TV show from Israel about the Yom Kippur War that just started.
Renewal is here. I just need to remember to look in the right direction.