Approaching the Starting Line to a New Year
Sep 11th 2015

During the recent PanAm Games here in Toronto, I attended my first-ever swimming and track and field competitions. Both were a lot of fun and a great way to spend a morning, and it also marked the first time I got to cheer on Canadian athletes in person. 

At each event, there was something that I had never experienced before. Prior to a race starting, when the starter called the swimmers or runners to their starting positions, everything got quiet. Really quiet. As soon as the gun fired and the athletes started their race, there was a cacophony of noise urging them on. 

I have been to lots of sporting events, but I have never experienced this before. Great baseball and football games have a constant buzz of noise to them. Basketball games have music during play, and hockey has the sounds of the crowd, of the skates on the ice and the hits along the boards. In sports like golf and tennis, which do have an etiquette of the crowd being quiet, the silence remains until the rally is done or the golf shot has landed. But this was different. This was a short period of silence, then lots of noise. Waiting, then going fast. 

We have reached the point in both the Jewish and secular calendars where the quiet and stillness of summer is about to be shattered by the starting gun of school, the High Holy Days and a return to the hectic schedule of the fall. As we all run around seemingly like chickens with no heads, shlepping ourselves and our children or grandchildren from one place to the next, we will all be yearning for the calm of summer, the feeling of the sun’s warmth, the grass or sand between our toes. 

Thankfully, we have a slew of holidays that help ease us into the busy season. How do they help, you might be asking. The work and preparations for the big meals of Rosh Hashanah, building the Sukkah and all the time off work only make life more difficult, not easier, you are surely saying. But think about the pace and rhythm, the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, enjoying a Rosh Hashanah lunch on the back porch or seeing the stars through the top of a Sukkah. Visiting the Cedarvale Ravine creek for Tashlikh and watching the leaves begin to change colour as we dance and celebrate with the Torah. Going for a slow walk in the late afternoon on Yom Kippur. These are all moments where we can grab some of that time back, slow things down and enjoy the last few weeks of (hopefully) warmer weather before the grey of November sets in. 

If you are having difficulty finding some peace and serenity in the midst of the holidays, we are here to help. We have great holiday programming for kids and families, including our annual Sukkah Hop and opening Family Service on October 3, our Simẖat Torah program and dinner on October 5 and our teen Jewish Service Network trip to North Bay from October 8 to 11. We also have some new programs about to begin, like our Pizza in the Hut family sukkah party on September 30, our Congregational School open house on September 27 and a special dramatic retelling of Jonah and the Whale in the afternoon on Yom Kippur. 

With our revamped Congregational School—focussed on experiential education—and our new team of youth, teen and family staff, Beth Tzedec has so much to offer. When the starting gun goes, don’t be afraid to jump right in and run towards the shul. We’ll be here, cheering you on all the way.