YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

Shana Tova – Happy New Year

Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, begins on Sept 24th at sundown. In a world of insecurity and instability, Rosh Hashana acts as a promise for hope, peace, freedom, and new beginnings. Rosh Hashana also acts as a holiday of symbolism. We blow the shofar, rams horn, to symbolize a wakeup call to start fresh. This idea is perpetuated by the eating of new fruits. By tasting the sweet juices of these new fruits of the earth, we can enter into the New Year in the right mindset. As we bring in the Jewish New Year here at the Y, we are celebrating our own new beginnings. For instance, our new Y Beginnings Parenting Center is dedicated to celebrating the bringing of a new life into this world, and educating new parents.

As many families come together and celebrate this holiday, a common fruit found on the table is a pomegranate. As we peel away the rough inedible exterior to reach the sweet seeds of the fruit we say the words “may our merits be multiplied like the seeds of a pomegranate.” That is all well and good, but we can learn a great deal from the peel as well. Just as the peel is an integral part of this beautiful fruit, we must understand that every person within a community has a specific purpose through their contribution.   

 Rosh Hashana is a time for introspection, a time for thought, a time for celebrating milestones, a time for recommitment to our goals, and a time for redefining our purpose. Rosh Hashana is the time where we gather as a community and celebrate integral themes of solace, peace, joy, and good health for all. These are ideas that extend beyond the scope of religion and touch all of humanity. We hope for a year of peace and success starting within the home, and expanding to our community, our country, and our world.  

We look forward for the receiving of blessing and fortitude, and that whatever hardships or setbacks we’ve experienced in the preceding year be modified to enact a more positive outcome. Our paths towards these supplications and requests can be enhanced through our thoughts and actions, and through acts of good deeds and kindnesses. Just as we try new fruits, try a new way to fulfill your role in your community. Donate some money to a meaningful charity, prepare a meal for a sick neighbor, or simply say hello to a stranger in the street. We often lose sight of how deep an impact our seemingly insignificant actions can make.

Most of all, we look forward to coming together as family. The word “family” can take many forms. It is up to each and every one of us to define this word for ourselves, plant the seeds, nurture our relationships, and watch our families blossom into the most beautiful and integral parts of our lives.

We at the Y would like to take this moment to extend a sincere happy new year to all of our members and friends that make up our family. Let this time of year be a celebration of new beginnings and a celebration of family & community for all. Each and every one of you makes us who we are, and we are so thankful that you allow us to take part in your life. May we be inscribed for a year of sweetness, a year of happiness and a year of celebration, and may the year 5775 usher in peace and tranquility for all.

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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