On the cusp of a new year

On the cusp of a new year

The High Holy Days are a time to think about what’s out of kilter and how we can set it right.

They force us to prioritize. Just as the financial crisis forces us to choose expenditures wisely, we as individuals and a community have to decide what’s truly important.

In fact, money, this holiday season, is looming large in our consciousness. While we are enjoined not to focus on the mundane at a time of great spiritual significance, we must recognize that our friends and neighbors – and our communal institutions – may be in financial need.

This is a time-honored season to give to charity, and we urge readers to be generous, particularly to institutions like food banks and agencies that work with families in crisis.

It is also a time of introspection, and of reaching out to others.

Do we owe apologies to friends and relatives for a misdeed or an oversight? Are we trying to be models of ethical behavior for our children? Do we contribute time, energy, or money to communal causes?

Just as we need to search our individual souls, so too do our communal organizations need to consider how to structure their work in the public interest. For example, some organizations have divested their holdings in companies that do business with Iran and Sudan. This is a wonderful way to start the new year.

And while many might suggest that electoral politics has no place in our religious lives, we owe it to ourselves and our children to be good citizens, to be engaged in the life of our times.

We owe it to the future to become informed, to carefully study the policies of those who have thrown their hats into the political ring. And if those policies are obscure, we must ask for transparency. What the next generation of leaders will do matters not only to us, not only now, but to millions of people – and not just Americans – for many years to come.

Dear readers, we wish you a thoughtful holiday and a sweet new year. Shana Tova.