Shabbat Shalom: Renewal, Reflection, and Beginning
By: Willie Recht
Chief Development Officer
Next to apples, honey, and honey cake (I love cake) perhaps the most recognizable part of the high holidays is the sound of the shofar, and on Rosh Hashanah, we hear three distinct sounds:
1. Tekiah – one long, straight blast
2. Shevarim – three medium, wailing sounds
3. Teruah – 9 quick blasts in short succession
While all play an important role, I’ve always found the third, Teruah, to be my favorite. Honestly, I just liked the sound and quick repetition of blasts. However, in preparing for this piece, I have learned that these quick blasts, in short succession, represent a very important theme of renewal, reflection, and beginning—all fundamental aspects of the holy days ahead.
It is said that on Rosh Hashanah we have the opportunity to wake up and be honest and objective; and some, as noted by Rabbi Shraga Simmons, compare these days and the repetitive blasts of Teruah to an alarm clock, arousing us to be aware of the blessings we have been given, to look closely at what we have done – or not done – with those blessings, and to make an honest effort to maximize those gifts. This could be applied personally, professionally and/or communally.
As someone who has been fortunate enough to find my calling as a Jewish communal professional and have had the privilege and ability to answer that calling, I find this comparison and request especially apropos. I write this as I am completing my 8th day in my new role as Chief Development Officer of JEWISHcolorado. And if I were to, as asked, look closely at the blessings in front of me – and there are MANY – I truly believe that the Federation system, of which JEWISHcolorado is a robust member, is one of the blessings our community and Jewish communities across the globe have been given almost a hundred years ago.
As David Prytowski, Chief Development Officer of Jewish United Fund in Chicago has described, this system is a gift to us (the Jewish people). One that could never be recreated in the modern day, but somehow still works as one of the most incredible systems and infrastructures on the planet. And I agree. We are not perfect, but no one does, or can, do what we do. And it is our honest effort, as professionals, lay leaders, and donors to maximize this gift and all that it encompasses.
As I wrap up my first two weeks, and as we as an organization embark on the 2024 Annual Campaign, the ideas of awareness and reflection are paramount. What are our blessings? What were our successes? Where have we fallen short? And what can we do to maximize this gift we have been given?
All has not been revealed, but I am filled with immense gratitude to have returned to JEWISHcolorado and am fortunate to be working under exceptional leadership and alongside a team that is not only tremendously talented but also deeply committed to our mission.
The sound of Teruah, a call to attention and action, resonates with me now more than ever. It signifies a pivotal and transformative period for my professional career, our organization, and the broader Jewish community.
As we navigate this transformative period, hearing the repetition of Teruah, I am confident that with our collective efforts, awareness, and dedication we will continue to thrive and make a significant impact. I look forward to embarking on this journey with all of you, and I am eager to see what the future holds for JEWISHcolorado and our Colorado Jewish community.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year, and may you be sealed in the book of life. L’Shanah Tovah.
Please email Willie Recht at email@example.com with questions or comments.