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DSC00472 2A message from Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner- Wilf Campus Rabbi and Chaplain

When we were children, the end of summer marked the return to school. I remember it being both exciting and scary. It was a new beginning, an opportunity for me to start fresh, to work to reach new milestones. Yet, there were many unknowns; would I get along with the teacher, would I be able to understand new things, and would this be the year I struggled more than others. As I settled into school, the routines of the past helped carry me forward.

I feel this same trepidation and elation when hearing the sound of the Shofar for the first time as it marks the beginning of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The sound of the shofar wakes me up to consider where I have been and where I want to be going forward.  Hearing the shofar raises excitement, as it marks the first steps toward a new beginning in a new year.  It is a time of looking to our hopes and dreams for what will come during the next year.

The shofar also raises fears. It reminds me of what remains unfulfilled, what goals I was unable to accomplish. Have I truly fallen short because things remain undone or did I in fact succeed? Are the steps that have been taken enough for now? Will new opportunities present themselves to further my goals? The shofar sounds symbolize this dual sense of hope and fear as we head into the period of judgment between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

As we enter the period leading to the high holidays, my prayer is that we take the time to prepare, to prepare to celebrate and to contemplate. There are new things to learn, to see and to experience. There are new goals to consider and pursue. May this period of preparation lead us to having a sweet and peaceful new year of 5777.

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