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September 24, 2019

In with the Old AND In with the New!

Written By: Danny Tuchman

In with the Old AND In with the New!

Jews all around the world are getting ready to celebrate Rosh Hashana, the start of the new year on the Jewish calendar. We all hope the new year 5780 will bring us new opportunities, new challenges, new adventures, and chances for personal and professional renewal. Oftentimes when we start or receive something new we say “Out with the old, in with the new!”

A new job, a new house, a new wardrobe…out with the old, in with the new!

I always found it interesting that this phrase doesn’t really apply to Rosh Hashana, the start of the Jewish new year. After all, the holiday is a celebration of something new.

For me, Rosh Hashana has always been more about “Let’s KEEP the old, and in with the new!” As we celebrate the new year we look forward to the new, but we don’t throw away the old. The holiday is full of traditions, which by definition are old: apples dipped in honey, a round challah, the extended family lunch or dinner, getting together as a community and reading the same prayers year after year. Every Rosh Hashana we chant the same exact Torah verses and the same Haftora’s. We don’t search for new words of wisdom in our sacred texts, we simply go back to the old and repeat the experience year after year.

There is a prayer, familiar to many, that we say when we start something new, the Shehecheyanu:

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu,
v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive,
sustained us, and brought us to this season.

Have you ever noticed that this prayer says nothing about the concept of “new”?

It thanks G-d for allowing us to reach a certain moment in time. Of course, we understand this to be a time period during which we are celebrating something “new” at the same time that we keep the “old”. But I’ve never understood this prayer to be making a new/old distinction.

And so it is with Camp Judaea every year. As we begin planning the Summer of 2020 – our 60th summer! – we are always looking for the new: new activities, new programs, new staff members, new facilities. But we certainly make sure that we never forget the old. We are fortunate to have familiar faces as staff who return each summer. We all can count on always having Misdar Boker at the flagpole every morning, t’filot by the lake every morning, singing and cheering in the Chadar Ochel, ropes, horseback riding, basketball and soccer, and of course Bikurim (I just won’t tell you when!). And there are so many other CJ traditions and “old” things that I could mention.

As we approach this Rosh Hashana let us all appreciate the new that is coming and the old that we already have. Let us remember old traditions and memories as we create new ones in our communities, our schools, and at Camp Judaea this summer.

On behalf of the entire Camp Judaea staff I wish you all a happy, sweet and healthy New Year.

Shana Tova ve Metuka!

CATEGORIZED IN Jewish Holiday

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