The Torah portion prior to Rosh Hashanah speaks of our ancestors traveling to the Temple and making an offering of the first fruits of their harvest. I decided to adapt this ancient practice for those who attended our Shabbat service that Friday night.
After giving my Torah commentary, I distributed index cards and pens. I invited each person to write on the card a hope for the New Year. I also told everyone not to inscribe it. Following a period of reflection and writing, I gathered the cards and then placed them in the ark at the base surrounding our Sifrei Torah.
Throughout the High Holy Days, when the ark was open, I could see the cards. I could not read what was written on them but that was not the point. Seeing these index cards inspired me. They symbolized both the singular soul of each person as well as the communal sharing of our hopes and prayers.
Now that the Days of Awe have passed, I collected the cards out of the ark.
Here, unedited, are the expressions of some of our congregants:
My prayer is always the hope for good health and safety while flying, driving, or staying home. I also pray for the energy to meet obligations and for the ability to balance them.
To let go of any bitterness or resentment that I have felt in my heart for those who have hurt my feelings in the past or have not shown any kindness or accepted my attempts to reconcile.
I pray for peace and empathy in this bruised and battered world;
For health and continued joy in our family;
For understanding of, mercy from, and to learn surrender to HaShem.
A resurgence of our beloved TBT.
My wish and hope is to continue to grow with Judaism and to become better as a person and bring happiness into the world.
Oh holy and my loving Eternal God, grant me the courage and strength to enter this New Year. Give me Your blessing to truly start anew even as I struggle to let go of all my pain from the past year. Provide me with happiness, blessing, peace, prosperity and hope so that I can again live with confidence.
My prayer in the New Year is that our country moves further to healing the divides between rich and poor, black and white, and members of differing political parties. May we dwell in harmony and peace.
Peace – health – sanity – wisdom – especially for the leaders everywhere and at all levels.
Peace, love, and harmony within me and the rest of the world.
For all of the prayers in our ark these High Holy Days, I say: Amen!