During Middle School and Upper School Chapels on Oct. 1, the St. Stephen’s community recognized Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year. During these special Chapel celebrations, several Jewish members of the school led the community in prayers in honor of Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days.
“It was a gift for the school community to hear the students reflect on their favorite aspects of keeping these religious traditions at home and in Temple,” said the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, school chaplain.
“One of my favorite aspects of Rosh Hashanah is that we are encouraged to think about our hopes for the New Year,” one student reflected. “It is said that God opens the book of life on Rosh Hashanah and closes it again on Yom Kippur. Within the 10 days in between, we are given a chance to set new goals for the year and to remember our sins from the past year so they will not be repeated again. Because of this, Rosh Hashanah motivates the community to seriously think about enacting change now, as opposed to simply saying we will create change sometime in the indefinite future. The fact that this is done as a community allows for change on a greater scale and gives us a sense of working together towards a better world.
“Two nights ago, my Rabbi said that the most meaningful Mitzvot, or good deeds, are those which help people who are unable to thank you for them,” the student added. “This means that we need to create change not only for ourselves but for the generations to come. Each year, our Rabbi relates his sermon to current events. I found this year’s speech about the climate crisis to be particularly compelling, and it made me think about what I could do to help, not only for myself and for my peers, but for our children, and their children, and hopefully their children as well.”